Brits urged to call the Home Heat Helpline on behalf of vulnerable
neighbours and family
As the latest Big Freeze hits the country, it seems bad weather can bring out the best in people. New international research from the Home Heat Helpline shows that over half of Brits (51%) say they feel a greater sense of community and want to help others more during bad weather. It seems Brits lead the way in this feeling of seasonal goodwill – ahead of the Germans (47%) and French (42%).
In Great Britain, one in five say that during a predicted bout of heavy snowfall, they are likely to phone their family and friends more, while one in eight will help neighbours by shovelling driveways. Even if it’s not time to pick up the spade just yet, there is still a simple way to help ensure all friends, family and vulnerable neighbours are staying warm in their homes. By calling the Home Heat Helpline, for yourself or as a Samaritan, you can find out if you or your family or friend is within the one in ten eligible across the country for help. That assistance can be worth an average of £250.
In light of last year’s Big Freeze, it seems Brits now prepare more than ever for the sudden disruptions snow can bring, with four in five making special preparations for bad weather. Such preparations include stocking up on extra food and taking extra care with travel arrangements.
With Northerners more used to dealing with cold snaps, they take the most precautions and are also more likely to help out neighbours and friends in need than their Southern counterparts. Subsequently Northern communities feel the greatest sense of unity in cold weather.
Whilst the weather brings out our neighbourly spirit, the research also shows that the weather can come in useful when meeting new people. 22% of Brits say they ‘always use the weather’ as an ice breaker to initiate conversations, and almost half (49%) ‘sometimes’ use it. Women discuss the weather the most, with 27% admitting they always use the weather to strike up conversation, compared to just 17% of men. Despite the stereotype of our conversational obsession with the weather, the French lead the way, with almost a quarter of French people always using the weather as an ice-breaker.
Whether we are talking about the weather or giving a neighbour a helping hand, this seasonal unity is welcome, as nearly a third of those respondents who don’t work rely on friends and family for help during a Big Freeze. Research shows, during the cold winter months, only a third of Brits know which organisations are available for advice on keeping their homes warm.
With one in 10 UK households eligible for some form of assistance, the Home Heat Helpline is urging people to call in as the bad weather hits. In some areas, the number of people eligible for help rises, with one in five in Birmingham and even one in four in Wales entitled to help. To find out if you’re entitled to help this winter, call: Home Heat Helpline: 0800 33 66 99.
Follow the Home Heat Helpline on Twitter for added advice and updates @HHHelpline
For further information please contact Fishburn Hedges, the PR agency on 0207 492 0997
or email HomeHeatHelpline@fishburn-hedges.co.uk.
Notes to editors
The Home Heat Helpline (0800 33 66 99) is a free, not- for- profit phone line to help people who are struggling to pay their energy bills and keep warm.
The Helpline is managed by the Energy Retail Association and paid for by contributions from Britain’s major energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, RWE npower, SSE and ScottishPower). The service is backed by a range of organisations including Age UK; Citizens Advice; National Energy Action; Energy Saving Trust; Counsel and Care and Gingerbread.
The Helpline’s trained advisers can provide eligible callers with access to one or more of the following services:
- free or discounted home insulation
- Discounts and rebate schemes
- The Priority Service Register, which can provide extra services for people who are elderly or disabled (including bills in large text or Braille, security passwords and an annual gas safety check)
- flexible payment options
- benefits entitlement checks
The Energy Retail Association set up a Safety Net procedure in 2004 to make sure that no vulnerable customer in Britain is knowingly disconnected from their electricity or gas supply at any time of year. Find out more about the disconnection Safety Net.