Southampton Healthy Homes: Margaret’s Story

Margaret contacted us as her combi boiler hadn’t been producing hot water for four months. Her occupational therapist provided her with an information leaflet about our Southampton Healthy Homes project and suggested she get in touch. Margaret has health problems that leave her unable to work and she recently lost her husband, leaving her unable to afford the cost of replacing her broken boiler.

A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor visited Margaret two days later and helped her get quotes from Buy With Confidence and Gas Safe registered heating engineers, as well as fill in an application for a grant to other charitable trusts. During the application process, Margaret’s boiler completely broke. A referral was made to the local welfare charity, for a utility top up voucher to help Margaret cover the higher electricity costs from temporary heaters, whilst awaiting the trusts’ decision.

In less than a month’s time, the trust agreed to fully fund the boiler replacement, giving Margaret heating and instant hot water again. The trust also decided to provide financial help her pay off debt from her husband’s funeral.

Margaret was very happy with her new boiler:

“Now I have again heating and hot water at all times.”

She was also very thankful for all the help she received:

“Like to thank everyone involved who helped me so much plus [the trust] for the grant and [the heating company] who installed the new boiler.”

As well as helping with the heating, the advisor helped Margaret apply for the Warm Home Discount, a government scheme that offers a discount of £140 off electricity bills.

If you know a friend, family member or client in a similar situation, please call the Southampton Healthy Homes team for advice and support on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com.

A Month of Clean Air

tEC staff have been getting involved in the exciting clean air events in Southampton this month. This year’s National Bike Week culminated in the Let’s Ride Southampton street festival, and these events prompted our newest staff member to begin riding to work. While she doesn’t own a bike, she was able to take advantage of the local bike share scheme and, along with thousands of others, participated in the 6km circular bike route around the city.

We also got involved in Clean Air Day, which aims to raise awareness of the benefits of clean air and ways people can improve the air quality around them. We made pledges in the lead-up to the event, ranging from using fewer nasty chemicals to clean our homes to switching to renewable energy providers. To celebrate Clean Air Day 2018, the Clean Air Network – a network of organisations from businesses and transport operators to charities and education institutions – hosted a festival with activities, performances, speakers and prizes. We were on hand to encourage passers-by to get involved, find out how to reduce and avoid air pollution and to provide feedback on Southampton City Council’s Clean Air Zone proposals. The consultation will remain open for the next 12 weeks.

The day ended with a number of great speakers as part of the University of Southampton’s Research Café highlighting their work with regards to air pollution, its impacts and potential solutions. The speakers gave us hope that we’re moving in the right direction and little steps can lead to big changes.

We finished the month by attending Clean Air Southampton’s Air Quality Monitoring Workshop to learn more about the current monitoring situation in the UK and how we can interpret and utilise this information locally. It was great to meet a wide range of campaigners, researchers and politicians from across the county who are all passionate about tackling air pollution.

tEC is committed to helping individuals, businesses and communities reduce their environmental impacts and cut carbon. If you would like to find out more about our projects, or want to become an Air Quality Champion, you can email cleanair@environmentcentre.com or call us on 02380 336172 (Mon-Fri 9-5).

Southampton Healthy Homes: Emma’s Story

Emma is an owner occupier living with her two teenage children and is her son’s full time carer. She was given our contact details from a local heating engineer as her boiler was condemned and it was not safe to use. The engineer had told her it was irreparable and that it had to be replaced, a cost that Emma couldn’t afford herself due to her limited income.

“I was completely shocked and worried when my boiler was condemned and I had no idea how I was going to be able to pay for a new one.”


A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor visited Emma at her home to discuss potential funding options and help her fill in the project’s application form.

Emma’s application was approved for a local authority grant and, with a contribution from herself, she was able to have a brand new boiler installed.

“Without help, I would have really struggled getting a replacement boiler.”

She was also very pleased with all the help she received:

“Through the heating engineer passing on tEC’s details, my mind was put at rest straight away and before I knew it funding had been granted and a new boiler was fitted. I am incredibly grateful; such lovely people to deal with.”

Apart from support with the faulty boiler, Emma expressed her concern about her draughty back door for which the advisor provided a door brush to limit the problem.

If your home is cold and draughty, please call the Southampton Healthy Homes team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor about how you can keep warm and well.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Pat’s Story

Pat is an older widow living in her own property in Hampshire. Her combi boiler had failed, leaving her without heating or hot water, and her insurance wouldn’t cover the cost. She needed help and called us.

Because of her financial situation and serious health conditions, we were able to help her with the cost of installing a new boiler in addition to helping her apply for the Warm Home Discount. Her vulnerabilities made her eligible for the Priority Services Registers for her energy and water companies and we provided her with those details.

Pat was very happy with the Hitting the Cold Spots service and things have improved a lot for her and her property following our involvement. The replacement boiler and the new room thermostat location mean that,

“the house is now warmer than before the old boiler broke. I would have frozen to death if I had not done anything about the failed boiler.”

We were also able to help Pat get a significant discount on her water bill, including a surface water drainage rebate.

If staying warm and well is vital for your health, please call the Hitting the Cold Spots team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com for advice and support.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Jane’s Story

Jane and Tom are a young couple living with their baby daughter in their own home. They met with one of the Southampton Healthy Homes advisors during an event at their local Children’s Centre.

During the event, they were discussing home energy savings when they brought up an issue with their windows. Apart from them being single glazed, they also had cracks and holes that allowed cold air in. They said their,

“House was always cold, unsecure and very high energy bills”

A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor visited them at their home to assess the situation, discuss potential funding options, including the Warm Home Discount scheme, and help them fill in the application forms.The couple was able to secure a local authority grant to replace the defective windows. They were very happy with the outcome as they,

“couldn’t have afforded to replace the windows ourselves.”

Apart from support with the windows, the advisor also referred them to the government’s ECO scheme from which they managed to access funding for the installation of loft insulation.

If you or someone you know needs help applying for funding to keep warm and well, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor.

Hitting the Cold Spots: June’s Story

June and her young family lived in a concrete solid wall house with no wall insulation and only a small amount of loft insulation. Their house was heated by an old coal fired Rayburn with a back boiler for hot water, and a few portable electric heaters upstairs. June’s husband has diabetes and their youngest child has an autoimmune disease which causes frequent medical emergencies.

June was referred to Hitting the Cold Spots by her local council who were helping the family with a Disabled Facilities Grant to install a wet room, wheelchair access and modern high heat retention storage heaters, because their rural village is not on the gas network. However, due to very high heat loss through the walls, the house would be difficult to keep warm even with improved heating, and the Hitting the Cold Spots advisor suggested that the family would benefit from having external solid wall insulation.

Although June’s husband works, and they receive Child Tax Credits and disability benefits for their youngest child, the family were not able to afford the upfront costs of solid wall insulation. The Hitting the Cold Spots advisor arranged for a local insulation company to assess the property for external wall insulation and a loft insulation top-up. Due to the poor energy efficiency of the house and the family’s circumstances, they were able to access Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding for over half of the cost of works. An application was made for the funding shortfall from the Hitting the Cold Spots rural fund, and the family were successful. The Hitting the Cold Spots advisor also helped June apply for planning permission for the work.

With all of the energy efficiency works completed – external wall insulation, loft insulation top-up and high heat retention storage heaters – the home has improved from an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) very poor F rating to an above average C rating, which should save the family over £1200 on their annual energy bills. The biggest achievement for the family is the improved warmth and comfort of the home, and benefits for their health, June said:

“From having the work done our home is so much warmer. We have full use of the house now. It is also going to help with my daughter’s health problems.”

The family are also exploring the possibility of installing Solar PV panels through the recently re-opened Green Deal loans scheme – this further energy efficiency improvement would take their home’s EPC rating up to a B, far above the current national average.

If your home is difficult to heat there may be help available for you, please call the Hitting the Cold Spots team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com to find out more.

Southampton Healthy Homes: David’s Story

David was given our details by a local heating engineer as his gas combi boiler hadn’t been working for the past two months and he wasn’t able to afford the repairs himself.

The Southampton Healthy Homes advisors visited David to get more information about his situation. David is an older gentleman who lives alone in his own home, he has a low income and suffers from several health conditions.

Whilst looking for funding to repair the boiler, the advisors arranged for the delivery of an electric plug-in radiator to keep him warm and made a referral to Citizens Advice Southampton for support with benefits and debt advice. They also referred him to the council’s Disabled Facilities Grant team who arranged for David to have a stair rail fitted to help him in using the stairs.

Following his application, the local council offered David a grant to repair his broken boiler, and he was very happy with this outcome.

As well as his broken boiler, David was also concerned about his electricity and gas bills as he was finding he was paying too much. The advisors helped him look for a better energy deal, and David decided to switch to a plan that could save him over £400 a year. To top up his savings from switching, the advisors assessed David’s eligibility for the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme and helped him apply for that £140 credit on his winter bill.

If you would like help finding a cheaper energy deal and switching supplier, please call the Southampton Healthy Homes team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Shirley’s Story

Shirley’s friend contacted Hitting the Cold Spots because she had had no heating or hot water for over six months. Shirley is a home owner, in her eighties and has a number of serious health conditions, some of which require her to be able to bathe regularly. The boiler was over 23 years old and her energy company service plan could no longer get parts for it. They quoted for a new boiler but it was several thousand pounds more than she could afford, as she only had a small pension and disability benefits.

Shirley’s Hitting the Cold Spots advisor looked at multiple funding routes but most of these options were either stalled or closed to her because she couldn’t produce a paper trail. With her health conditions and no other help available, Hitting the Cold Spots was able to fully fund the boiler replacement, just in time for the snowy weather.

As well as helping with Shirley’s failed heating and hot water, Hitting the Cold Spots provided emergency heating, energy bill and energy saving advice, signposted Shirley for cavity wall and loft insulation and referred her for additional help in her home. An Occupational Therapist assessed Shirley’s needs and the local council helped her apply for a stair lift and to replace her bath with a walk-in shower.

Through discussions with our advisor, Shirley was also able to piece together some of her late husband’s military background. The local Royal British Legion branch was able to recover his military record, enabling an application to be made to a charity to cover the costs of various home repairs and maintenance.

Shirley acknowledges that things have improved a great deal since Hitting the Cold Spots got involved, saying the results have been excellent and that none of these changes would have happened without our involvement.

“The Hitting the Cold Spots adviser has been wonderful, I would not have been able to get anything done without their help. I would definitely recommend the Hitting the Cold Spots service to others!”

If you or someone you know needs support with staying warm and well, please call the Hitting the Cold Spots team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Joyce’s Story

Joyce’s son got in contact with us after being referred by the local council. Joyce’s storage heater in her living room and the element on her hot water cylinder had both broken. We arranged to visit Joyce to see how we could help.

During the first visit we brought Joyce an electric oil-filled radiator so she had some heat in the living room. Joyce is in her late 80s and feels the cold so it was essential she had some heat in the living room, where she spends most of her time. The storage heaters in her flat were very difficult for her to operate and didn’t provide adequate heating for her. Different heating options were discussed and gas central heating was the preferred option for Joyce.

After looking into various grants, a grant offer was made to either replace the storage heater in the lounge with a more efficient and controllable heater and to fix the hot water cylinder, or to investigate the option of gas central heating. The client and her son decided to get some quotes for gas central heating since Joyce felt it would be easier for her to operate. She qualified for an assisted gas connection, which meant her home would be connected to the gas network for free. A combination of grants and a customer contribution then meant Joyce could afford to get gas central heating in her home.

“I have found the new heating to be of great pleasure to me. I was finding it so cold before I had the installation and now I really don’t know myself.”

Due to her financial situation, the advisors also helped Joyce apply for the Warm Home Discount and a discount off her water bills.

If your heating is inadequate or difficult to operate and you would like some help, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Stacey’s Story

Stacey and her husband are home owners, on a low income, who received Child and Working Tax Credits.  Stacey and one of her five children have asthma, their youngest child is disabled and her husband was signed off work following an accident.

The family’s gas boiler, which was over 10 years old, had failed because rain water had come in through the flue just before Christmas leaving them without heating or hot water through the festive period.  They had two companies out to quote for the work, which was estimated at several thousand pounds. The family had no savings and could not afford any upfront costs.

She was signposted to Hitting the Cold Spots by her local council, who worked together to get the family emergency electric heating, as well as a small grant towards the extra cost of running these portable heaters.

An advisor from Hitting the Cold Spots visited Stacey after Christmas and referred her to a local heating company with access to Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding. This funding didn’t cover the full cost of the work, and so the remaining shortfall was covered by grants from her local council and Hitting the Cold Spots. The failed boiler and hot water cylinder were replaced, and thermostatic radiator valves fitted.

The advisor continued working with the family to help them clear their energy debt through an energy company charitable trust, to reduce their water bills and to signpost them for additional financial help while her husband recovers from his accident.

Stacey was very clear that none of the improvements to their heating and energy bills would have happened without the Hitting the Cold Spots service, saying that they,

“did not know where to turn – as all others said no”.

If your heating is broken and you need help funding a repair or replacement, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) for advice on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com.