On 16th October 2019, the FPRN committee headed to London en mass to help celebrate 25 years of Eaga Charitable Trust at the House of Lords. We were joined by esteemed colleagues from far and wide including representatives of the academic, policy and VCS communities.
This was a bitter-sweet occasion as it marked the closure of the trust, which has provided much needed dedicated fuel poverty research funding for a quarter of a century. I would imagine that when the Trust was established, the founding trustees imagined (and hoped) that fuel poverty would soon be consigned to history. However, it won’t surprise anyone within the FPRN community to learn that it has endured and evolved to become what can only be described as a wicked problem afflicting the UK (and many other countries around the world) winter after winter.
Together we celebrated the important and sometimes risky research that the Trust have funded when mainstream funders wouldn’t. We celebrated the new knowledge and breakthroughs created and the vital insights gained. We celebrated the important research careers that the trust has supported through bursaries and grants. We mourned the loss of the only dedicated fuel poverty research funder at a time when ~2.5 million households in England are in fuel poverty and when the (international) community of researchers willing to dedicate their work to the eradication of the problem is greater than ever.
It was a big day for the FPRN committee as trustee Dr Graeme Sherriff launched the incredible resource that is the online Fuel Poverty Research Library. This makes available all the outputs funded by Eaga Charitable Trust over its 25 year life, in the form of a library structured by key themes, a set of guides for policy makers, and catchy animations. It also includes a new study on future directions for fuel poverty research and a survey of researchers who benefits from the support of Eaga CT.
FPRN Chair Aimee Ambrose gave a speech thanking Eaga CT for their investment towards the eradication of fuel poverty and for their support for the individual careers of network members. She implored the audience, which included politicians, civil servants and many policy influencers, to finally consign fuel poverty to history. She talked about how the FPRN had been inspired by Eaga CT to champion early career researchers and practitioners working in the field to ensure that the brightest minds are brought to bear on the problem.
The event marked an ending for Eaga CT but a new beginning for the FPRN as it enters its first year as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation or CIO, gears up to its 7th event in Cardiff in November and it’s first international conference in 2020. At the event, we made an important pledge to help, in some small way, to fill the gap left by Eaga CT by fostering a new generation of professionals determined to consign fuel poverty to history and ensure it does not become a defining feature of their present. We also pledged to continue to unite academic, policy and practice in their shared commitment to end the misery.
Farewell to Eaga CT – we will do all we can to uphold your legacy and ensure your high standards live on.
Dr Aimee Ambrose, Chair of Trustees