Switch-to-Save Changeworks

Changeworks

Charity registered in Scotland SC015144

Changeworks is a 29-year-old Scottish charity with 200+ employees/volunteers in Edinburgh, Inverness, Shetland, Orkney, Western Isles and Argyll. Our mission is to provide practical solutions to:
• Inspire and enable action to reduce fuel poverty, CO2, and waste
• Build confidence/skills to make sustainable choices
• Share our knowledge and learn from others to maximise our impact
• Deliver the best possible service creatively and professionally.

Across six departments we deliver a range of activity:
• Projects – provide in-depth, outreach support for householders, communities and schools, with expertise in supporting vulnerable people
• Consultancy services – behaviour change expertise and research
• Programme Management – large-scale fuel poverty programmes
• Home Energy Scotland advice centre – we operate two-of-five national advice centres, providing energy, transport and water advice, largely through an advice-line
• Local Energy Scotland – support community renewable energy projects
• Changeworks Recycling – business recycling service

  • From 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018
  • Award: £9,954 via Call 4
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Project plan

Project description

Changeworks knows from supporting people in fuel poverty that many know they are paying too much, do not know how to achieve savings, and/or have barriers preventing them switching. With Money Advice Trust funding they have already piloted digital switching workshops with Voices of Carers Across Lothian (VOCAL) taking 40 carers through tariff comparison websites and switching online. From this experience they know switching barriers for older attendees was compounded by a lack of IT confidence/skills.

Building on this experience, they will deliver 15 step-by-step workshops tailored to supporting older people living in/at risk of fuel poverty in Edinburgh to gain confidence in basic digital skills (e.g. using search engines, comparison websites, secure websites, and accessing support services) to overcome barriers to switching supplier/tariff. Workshops will promote benefits of digital skills and switching and attendees will be invited to bring their own digital devices and energy bills or use the resources available. Some may need further support/be unable to access a workshop, so 1-2-1 appointments in venues/home visit as agreed with each older person.

Workshops will be delivered by an Affordable Warmth Advisor and the 1-2-1 support will be delivered by the Advisor or a trained volunteer. Volunteers will be recruited from their Heat Heroes volunteer team and trained to be digital switching champions (volunteers are already trained to deliver basic energy efficiency advice for older people).

Project milestones

Phase 1

• Project start-up initiated (e.g. workshops developed, project processes, financial monitoring) • Join Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter • Start recruiting volunteer champions • Start arranging calendar of workshops

Phase 2

• Digital switching training developed for volunteer champions • Volunteer training date organised • Delivery digital switching workshops commences and 1-2-1 support with older people

Phase 3

• Recruited and trained volunteer champions • Delivery of workshops and 1-2-1 support (ongoing each month) • Volunteer champions start to deliver 1-2-1 support • Write quarter one progress update

Phase 4

• Digital switching workshops and 1-2-1s continue until project end, delivered by both Affordable Warmth Advisor and volunteer champions. • Year-end project report written

Evaluation

Updates

Our Switch to Save project aimed to support older people living in or at risk of fuel poverty to gain confidence in basic digital skills and to better overcome barriers to switching their fuel supplier or tariff.
We did this by creating and developing our digital switching workshops and delivering them both in-house and out-with Changeworks office. The workshops were very hands-on with laptops or tablets provided to allow attendees to access websites and follow the advisors step by step guide to the fuel supplier price comparison pages and also to check if they were eligible for their fuel supplier's Warm Home Discount scheme. Attendees were encouraged to bring along their own fuel bills to the workshops so that they could carry out a realistic comparison to look for a cheaper deal. Attendees had varying levels of computer literacy, so the advisor helped individuals at their own level throughout the sessions. By the end of the sessions participants were able to access the price comparison websites and check online firstly to see if their fuel supplier offered the Warm Home Discount, secondly to check if they qualified for it and in some cases thirdly, to complete the online application.
Key outcomes recorded and reported on were:
Changes in older peoples' basic digital skills, their confidence in switching fuel supplier and savings on energy bills achieved due to Switch-to-Save support.

• Digital switching workshops delivered
Between November and the end of February we delivered 5 workshops. Four of these were organised events with 2 held inhouse at Changeworks office, one at Melville Housing Association in Midlothian and one at VOCAL Edinburgh office. We invited people along to these events but disappointingly numbers were low. We also held an 'open' workshop at Clovenstone Community Centre which was more successful with 8 attendees.
Frustratingly we had another 5 workshops arranged within this period – one at VOCAL Midlothian, one more at VOCAL Edinburgh, one for PASDA (Parents of Autistic Spectrum Disorder Adults) and 2 for Prospect Housing, but all were cancelled at short notice due to illness or adverse weather conditions.

Our energy supplier switching workshops have now been fully developed and tested in-house. The materials cover online energy supplier engagement and use of price comparison sites, checking tariffs, registering for Discounts or other supplier schemes and benefits, comparing fuel prices and customer service ratings, or simply making a complaint, gathering information and therefore being more able to make informed choices.
We will be holding the first of our workshops for householders in August - three dates have been set aside for this and so far a number of householders who showed an interest, have been invited to attend.
Our Heat Hero volunteers will also be invited along to this and we hope that some will agree to become champions for the project. A further workshop has been arranged for the end of August with The Royal Voluntary Service and we have received interest for more workshops to be held in September and November with Melville Housing Association and VOCAL Midlothian.
We had a successful site visit from Maddie Stark (SCVO) where we reviewed our progress towards Digital Charter pledges so far. She gave us very positive feedback and we are confident that our project is on track. We are very grateful for the support and encouragement she offered.

• Digital switching workshops delivered
Between August and October we delivered 4 workshops - two in-house at Changeworks office and two in other venues including a local library. Although they were not hugely attended they gave us the opportunity to test out our training methods in the different settings. Our in-house sessions were the most successful as we were able to set up the room exactly as we wanted beforehand and all attendees had access to a laptop. Attendees were also encouraged to bring their own bills along and this allowed them to carry out a tariff check that was totally personal to them. It also allowed them to apply for the Warm Home Discount during the session and this was greatly received by those who were eligible.
• Future plans
As per discussions with our link officer we have been planning to broaden our geographic area as well as the range of partners we work with to deliver the digital switching workshops. We mentioned working with Melville Housing and VOCAL Midlothian. We have several dates now in the calendar for these venues and we are looking to extend these to Inverness.

Our digital work is delivered in partnership with: