Hosted by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) in Bristol, the fifth Fuel Poverty Research Network meeting was held at Triodes Bank in May 2018. Responding to member feedback on future event themes, the two-day meeting adopted a more local focus which explored citywide and community approaches to tackling fuel poverty and cold homes in Bristol and the South West.
The event opened on Wednesday afternoon with a welcome from CSE’s Chief Executive, Simon Roberts OBE, who set the context for the days ahead, in part by providing an historical account of the work undertaken in the South West towards tackling fuel poverty.
The afternoon of Day 1 then welcomed presentations from local actors and organisations taking action against fuel poverty at the community level, and included the following speakers:
- Dave Tudgey, Bristol Energy Network
- Katherine Piper, Bedminster Energy
- Chris Speller, Bristol Energy Cooperative
As with previous FPRN events, the next session invited members of the network to deliver 5 minute lightening presentations on current research or activity. Speakers included:
- Martin Lewis, B-Warm Heated Seat Cover – Game changing in the Fuel Poverty Scenario
- Luke Garrett, National Energy Action – Energywise: energy saving and shifting in East London
- Kate de Selincourt, Independent Researcher/Journalist – When external insulation goes wrong: learning from Preston
- Christina Nascimento, Cardiff University – Exploring the wider consequences of fuel poverty
For the final session of DAY 1 attendees were invited to break from the event location to visit the Bristol Energy Hub: a novel use of space on the harbourside where Bristol Energy supports the local community (including non-customers) with a range of energy-related matters. Hearing from Bristol Energy, the session centred on the question: How can municipal energy companies tackle fuel poverty?
With an introduction from CSE’s Head of Household Energy Services, Ian Preston, the opening session of DAY 2 turned the spotlight on various projects from the host organisation CSE:
- Advanced data monitoring technology and advice giving, Dr Nick Banks
- Community-led fuel poverty interventions, Harriet Sansom
- Synergies and tensions in fuel poverty policy, Dr Toby Bridgeman
- Helping people with arthritis to use smart meters, Nicky Hodges
Titled ‘Innovative Delivery Models for Fuel Poverty Action’, the following session included four more presentations from local actors:
- Justin Bear, Plymouth Energy Community
- Lisa Evans & Tamra Mannin, Warm Homes, Advice & Money
- Lorna Edwards, Replicate Project
- William Baker and Anthony Ball, Citizens Advice and Cornwall Council
Over lunch on DAY 2, attendees were invited to view one of two exhibitions: the first, involving a presentation which used thermal imaging from the Cold Homes Energy Efficiency Survey Experts (the CHEESE project) and the second, a photography exhibition by Plymouth Energy Community entitled ‘Cold Realities’.
The afternoon of DAY 2 included a further five lightening presentations from Network members (listed below) and a Q&A session with Dr Brenda Boardman.
- Margaret Probin, University of Salford – Bury Council Boiler Funded Scheme (Private Rented Sector and Owner Occupied)
- Martha King, Knowle West Media Centre – The Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing
- Raul Castano, University of Seville – Index of Vulnerable Homes (IVH): A new response to the contemporary socioeconomic challenge
- David Stoker, Citizens Advice Energy Team – Switched on: Improving support for prepayment consumers who’ve self-disconnected
- Argyris Oraiopoulos, Association for the Conservation of Energy – ACE Research: Updates
In the final session of DAY 2, FPRN committee members Danielle Butler and Dr Graeme Sherriff, both from the University of Salford, considered with attendees the question: What’s on the horizon for FPRN? Drawing on responses from members, the first annual report, and outputs from activities at past FPRN events, the closing session asked attendees to work in groups, building a collection of suggestions and responses to the four areas outlined below:
- FPRN MEMBERS: How do we diversify and broaden the membership?
- FPRN EVENTS: What should FPRN events do? What should be included in future events?
- IMPACT & INFLUENCE: What is FPRN’s role in influencing policy & practice? (at local/national levels)
- GETTING INVOLVED: How can people be involved? How would you like to be involved?
A huge thank on behalf of FPRN and all attendees to the Centre for Sustainable Energy for hosting a superb and stimulating two-day event.
The next FPRN event – #FPRN6 – will be held in November 2018 and hosted by the University of Sheffield and partners to celebrate the end of the ESRC Seminar Series: The health impact of cold homes and fuel poverty. Further information including specific dates, venue details and the agenda will be released shortly.