Dundee advice team scoops top award for fight against fuel poverty

Hillcrest Group chairperson Alan Russell with Gemma Macgregor and Euan Hird, both of HEAT

An energy advice team that aims to reduce fuel poverty and keep housing association tenants warm over winter were delighted to scoop a top industry award.

Hillcrest’s Energy Advice Team (HEAT) were nominated for the Margaret Blackwood Excellence in Housing Innovation Award in recognition of the support they offer tenants who are struggling to pay bills, or have been cut off from their supply.

The CIH Scotland Excellence Awards, which were held at Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Friday 2nd of November, celebrates the cream of the crop in Scotland’s housing sector.

Based in Dundee but covering Hillcrest’s full spread of properties from Angus to Edinburgh, HEAT has helped Hillcrest tenants with a range of energy efficiency aspects since their inception in 2013.

These include using heating systems efficiently, switching to the cheapest energy supplier, obtaining Warm Home Discounts and Winter Fuel Allowances, minimising damp and condensation and offering tips and advice on saving energy.

Many of the tenants that HEAT has supported have also benefitted from other innovative and unique discretionary measures available to the team in their fight to keep families and individuals warm and connected to their energy supply.

Euan Hird of Hillcrest’s Energy Advice Team, who collected the award alongside colleague Gemma Macgregor, said: “It’s a great sense of pride in being recognised at a national level for the hard work that we undertake every day helping tenants and their families avoid fuel poverty. This award serves not only as recognition for the work we do, but also helps draw attention to a major issue many households are struggling with, especially with winter fast approaching.

“HEAT is also very grateful for the continued support that we’ve received from Hillcrest’s management and board, as well as other housing and support departments of the organisation. Along with direct enquires to us from tenants, it’s these internal referrals that can help us identify and engage with as many people as possible who may be struggling with energy bills.”

Bob Sander, Hillcrest director of housing, added: “The team’s innovative approach to addressing a serious issue is one to be commended.

“The difference and impact that the team can have is huge. It can certainly be the difference between someone having to make the choice between eating or heating, and prevents a short-term problem spiralling out of control.”