Published on

10 July 2023

Helping residents save £1.2million in energy costs

Using the Government's Household Support Fund, the Hardship Alliance turned a £60,000 investment in energy efficient devices into an estimated £150,000 savings this winter alone.

17 people from winter warmers network smile to the camera surrounded by boxes, some are holding energy efficient items

Residents save £1.2 million as fuel costs soar thanks to the Hardship Alliance, including Wokingham Borough Council, through an innovative scheme to provide residents in need with energy efficient items.

Using the Government's Household Support Fund, the partnership turned a £60,000 investment in energy efficient devices into an estimated £150,000 savings this winter alone.

This has helped local people to keep their homes warm and to be able to cook hot meals during the cost of living crisis. 

During the lifespan of the devices, residents will save an about £1.2 million on their fuel bills.

Helping planet, helping purses

The fact that the energy efficient devices use less fuel helps people in Wokingham to fight the climate emergency while they cut their fuel bills.

More than 2,000 items have been provided to these about 900 families.

The scheme, known as the winter warmer project, was coordinated by First Days Children’s Charity which distributed the items to local families and other groups who work with those who needed help.

The project was made possible thanks to assessments by Citizens Advice Wokingham and First Days, as well Wokingham United Charities purchasing the items.

Hardship Alliance initiative

It’s an initiative by The Hardship Alliance, a group formed in 2022 to tackle poverty in the borough. It includes Age UK Berkshire, Citizens Advice, First Days, Wokingham United Charities and the council.

Local groups including, The Link Visiting Scheme, SHARE Wokingham, Wokingham Foodbank, Churches Together, Woodley Lunch Bunch and The Wokingham Grub Club, were used to provide them to people who they knew might need help.

It represents a huge return on the original investment of £60,000 to buy the items.

Items include light bulbs, draft excluders, radiator insulation, shower timers, heated blankets, heated clothes airers, energy efficient kettles, air fryers, slow cookers and more.

Cllr Rachel Bishop-Firth with a blanket in a box

Making a difference for families

Of families who received items, 65 per cent said they would not have been able to pay bills or would have had to borrow money to pay bills without support.

Emma Cantrell, chief executive of First Days, said: “These times have made a huge difference to families already this winter, saving them thousands during a tough winter.

“I’m excited to expand this project in the future so we can help hundreds of more families who need support in the months ahead.”

Cllr Rachel Bishop-Firth, executive member for equalities, inclusion and fighting poverty, said: “Wokingham Borough Council is working closely with charities and voluntary groups to ensure that we make the greatest difference to the local people who are in the greatest need. 

“Working together, we have turned an original £60,000 into £1.2 million of value to our residents - 20 times the cost of the original investment. 

“Due to the success of the first round of the Winter Warmer Project, we have chosen to invest a further £60,000 into the project for the coming year."

Request support

Families in need of support for the first time with accessing these items should contact First Days Family Support Team on the online referral form

If a family already works with another local charity you can ask them to get in touch with First Days. Organisations wishing to access items for their clients need to apply by emailing and they will respond.

Energy efficiency items were part-funded through the Government’s Household Support Fund. 

This can be used to help with food, bills, energy costs and other everyday essentials.

The funding has seen more than £1million allocated to help Wokingham Borough residents in 2023/24.

Apply for £100 voucher

Support is available to households who feel they are struggling with rising costs of living as well as people in receipt of benefits.

Council partners can provide £100 per household with a food, fuel or cash voucher. To apply:

First Days are providing support for families where children receive means-tested free school meals. This is £15 per week, per eligible child, during the school holidays. 

If you received this support from First Days Children's Charity since October 2022, you do not need to apply again. 

Anyone who needs other help or support can contact the Citizens Advice Wokingham One Front Door.

This includes support for welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment law as well as other areas or helping you to access services.

Residents can use the online referral form or call 0808 278 7958, Monday to Friday. 

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