SSEN joins forces with Surrey and Hampshire charities to support vulnerable customers
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has teamed up with Action Hampshire and Surrey Community Action to support more vulnerable customers through the winter months and ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with targeted advice and guidance through a variety of communication methods.
Last year, SSEN handled over 550,000 customer calls during power cuts, with the average number of calls increasing tenfold during storms in the winter months. This partnership brings the ability to reach more customers, raising awareness of vital free assistance such as SSEN’s Priority Services Register, and the advice and support services on offer to help Hampshire and Surrey residents save energy and money.
SSEN has provided £9,000 of funding to the two local charities to deliver information and advice by phone, email and online platforms; enabling them to use the method of communication that best suits the customer. As part of the partnership, SSEN worked with the charities to set up systems that enable the efficient targeting of support to those that need it most.
The partnership will provide tailored advice to suit each individual and their needs. This includes: money saving tips; information on switching energy suppliers; accessing government support schemes and other charitable grants; assistance with debt signposting; and support with registering for additional help during power cuts through SSEN's Priority Service Register.
In addition to this, the funding will help the partners to create a series of podcasts focusing on the best ways to reduce energy consumption, save money and sign up for the free services that can assist them during power cuts and boost their resilience in the face of adverse weather situations. The podcasts are targeted to reach a wide and varied audience across Hampshire and Surrey. The podcasts will feature music composed and performed by local people from all ages and will be made available to the charities’ partner organisations and community radio stations.
Lyndsey Stainton, SSEN's Head of Stakeholder Engagement said:
"At SSEN, our customers are at the heart of all we do and we are delighted to be part of this programme that supports their needs through the winter months and beyond.
"We’re aware that there are still some pockets of vulnerability across communities, so by working with Action Hampshire and Surrey Community Action, we can reach more of our vulnerable customers who need assistance during power cuts, adverse weather events and the ongoing challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The aim of this partnership is to work together with local communities as a preventative measure, supporting and assisting residents before any potential issues can escalate."
David Carter, Advice and Guidance Officer at Surrey Community Action, said:
"We are delighted to be working with SSEN and Action Hampshire on this programme and to be promoting vital services and information to local people and local communities. Many people are unaware of available services and unable to travel to nearby centres for support.
“This programme will help make valuable information available to a wider audience.”
Joanna Dixon, Senior Engagement Officer at Action Hampshire, said:
“We know that the pandemic has made finances precarious for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Hampshire.
“SSEN has enabled us to make information even more accessible and reach more people to help them to be resilient when facing tough times.”
SSEN has extended its Priority Services Register to those who are categorised at ‘high risk’ and ‘extremely high risk’ of severe illness from coronavirus, so they are now eligible to sign up for additional support through the free, tailored service.
Customers are also eligible for SSEN's Priority Services Register if they:
- Are deaf or hard of hearing
- Have a disability
- Live with children under five
- Are blind or partially sighted
- Have a chronic illness
- Use medical equipment/aids reliant on electricity
- Are over 60
- Are categorised at ‘high risk’ or ‘extremely high risk’ of severe illness from coronavirus
By registering for SSEN’s Priority Services Register, customers will be proactively contacted to warn them of potential bad weather to help them prepare and to offer extra support where required. SSEN’s teams will also keep in close and regular contact with its Priority Services Register customers during network outages to check they are getting the help they need.
To find out more, click here, or call 0800 294 3259.
For more information on all the support available from SSEN, and for helpful advice on preparing for and dealing with a power cut, please visit ssen.co.uk/ready-together.