13 Feb 2015

Hundreds of vulnerable families in Bradford who are struggling to heat their homes could benefit from a pioneering partnership between The Children’s Society and Northern Gas Networks, the gas distribution company for the north of England.

More than 10,000 children in Bradford are estimated to live in families who have suffered from energy debt and the partnership between the charity, a leading campaigner on fuel poverty, and Northern Gas Networks, aims to identify and help vulnerable families through a range of measures.

The pilot scheme, which will offer energy debt and benefits advice, free gas connections for households that are off-grid, and community workshops where people can learn about energy efficiency and the risks of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, will be launched by the Bishop of Bradford on Friday 13 February.

According to research by The Children’s Society, the impact of fuel poverty can be devastating, with families unable to give their child a hot bath or cook them a hot meal. Children living in fuel debt are more likely to become ill or have trouble sleeping and their parents are at risk of stress, anxiety and depression.

Vulnerable families who need support from the scheme will also be referred to the project by the children’s centres and professionals such as health visitors and social workers.

Jane Middleton, Area Director for The Children’s Society in Yorkshire and the North East, says: 'Poverty and debt are blighting the lives of thousands of families with many of them unable to give their children a hot meal, a warm bath and keep them healthy.

'We’re delighted to partner with NGN on this vital project which will bring affordable warmth to local families and vulnerable children and help many escape the energy debt trap.'

Tom Bell, Head of Social Strategy for Northern Gas Networks, says: 'Fuel poverty is a huge issue in our region. The partnership will provide a crucial vehicle for Northern Gas Networks to identify families living in cold, poorly heated and badly insulated homes by tapping into the information that the charity holds through its vital outreach work.'

Toby Howarth, the Bishop of Bradford, says: 'In the Bradford area the church is very aware of families in poverty struggling to afford to heat their homes. I am very pleased to support this initiative which we hope will make a big difference to vulnerable families.'

Notes to Editors

Natalie Williams, Dr Sarah Royston, David Ayre and Dr Sam Royston for The Children’s Society, ‘Show some warmth’ Report, The Children’s Society, January 2015, http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/resources-and-publications...

About The Children’s Society

The Children’s Society has helped change children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on. We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life. For more information visit: childrenssociety.org.uk

About Northern Gas Networks

Northern Gas Networks own all the gas mains in the North East, most of Yorkshire and northern Cumbria transporting gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses. The network consists of 37,000km of gas mains, enough to stretch from Leeds to Sydney, Australia and back. Our mains replacement programme will see 3,800km of old metal gas main replaced with modern plastic equivalents by 2021. 

But we’re as much about people as we are about pipes. Whether we’re playing our part in helping to lift customers out of fuel poverty, educating households about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide, paving the way for new sustainable fuels such as biomethane, or providing training opportunities in deprived areas, we have a broad reach and an ambitious social agenda.