Topic of the practice
Helping social workers to address fuel poverty
Good Practice Information
Prioriterre in partnership with their local government (le Conseil General de Haute-Savoie) led the French Energy Ambassadors for 8 years (from 1999 to 2008). The project aimed to help families who were having difficulties in managing their water, heating and electricity consumptions. Personalised advice was offred on more than 800 occassions, with thais advice often being given in combination with social workers. The vulnerable groups were advised on enregy saving behaviours, and very often, Prioriterre raised awareness among social housing and private owners on the importance of refurbishment/ renovation work. There were three main actions: raising awareness of households (via home visits, conference, groups meeting, distribution of brochures and information tools), training social workers on energy efficiecy matters and participation in the local Energy Fund committee. iThe project was funded by Conseil General for 9 years. The project stopped due to lack of funding but social workers continued to ask for assistance of this nature. This demand led to Prioriterre deciding to develop the approach into an IEE project along with partners from 8 other European countries.
The French concept was adapted and the social workers became energy ambassadors themselves. More than 290 social workers were trained in one year. One success factor of this approach is the support that the energy advice centre give to social workers to help them deal with energy efficiency issues. In order for the approch to be transferred it is necessary to convince municipalities or social housing association of the need and benefit of improving energy efficiency for vulnerable groups. The issue of fuel poverty is difficult for soicial workers to deal with without some access to energy expertise. It is also important to design awareness raising tools that are appropriate to the target audience.
Evidence of success
307 social workers have followed the Enegy Ambassadors training module. More than 3000 households (representing approximately 6000 people) were reached during the 6 month intervention period.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Annex completed on: 08-22-2011