Changeworks runs a number of volunteer projects to help householders make their homes warmer and more energy efficient and also to reduce and recycle waste. We spoke to Drew Murphy, our Senior Affordable Warmth Advisor, about one of these projects, Heat Heroes, to find out more about it and the work of its volunteers.

Hi Drew! Can you tell us a bit about the Heat Heroes project?

The Heat Heroes are a team of volunteer energy advisors at Changeworks. They are trained to give free energy advice at home visits to people over 65 across Edinburgh. The aim is to enable people to live in warm, comfortable homes at an affordable cost and therefore see improvements in their health as a result.

What are the key benefits to householders getting involved?

Every householder will get a free home visit with advice on how to get the best from their heating system, how to save money on gas and electricity bills, information on the best energy tariffs for them and access to all the additional support available that they might not be aware of.

Who are the volunteers? What do they do?

The volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and are a great bunch! They range in age from 20 to 80 year olds and have all benefited from in-depth training from Changeworks before embarking on delivering advice to householders. Once they have completed their training the volunteers carry out between 2-8 visits per month, flexible to fit into their schedules but always with Changeworks HQ on call to back them up!

What has been the response from householders to the project?

We’ve had a lot of positive response from householders. Of the 600 people we have visited since April 2012, 75% said they felt warm and comfortable in their homes following our advice, compared with 43% beforehand. 32% said they saw a positive improvement in their health and wellbeing.

Here’s just a few of the comments we’ve had from householders who were given advice by our Heat Heroes volunteers:

"Thank you for the information it is really helpful. I now feel completely unworried about my gas and electricity bills. You are a blessing."

 

"I feel much happier having spoken to the advisor. A successful and worthwhile service."

 

"I received the Warm Home Discount £135 rebate and learnt many different things like which appliances use the most energy. Very helpful."

 

"After the advice I feel more comfortable at home."

 

It’s good to know that our help and advice is really making a difference to people’s lives. It’s feedback like this that makes it all worthwhile.

How can people get involved as a volunteer in the areas where the project runs?

The project is currently only active in Edinburgh. We try to link volunteers up with householders near their home to reduce the need for transport. Due to this we are currently only able to take volunteers from Edinburgh. Our website has full details on how to apply!

What Heat Heroes activities are happening over the next few months or so?

We are currently looking to recruit new volunteers and will be holding our next volunteer training programme shortly. Apply via the Changeworks website for more details. The project will also be delivering a talk to older people at Pilrig St Paul’s Church this week.

How can people find out about Heat Heroes and get in touch?

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the project, whether they want a visit themselves or know of people that might benefit, they can contact me at dmurphy@changeworks.org.uk or call 0131 555 4010 and ask for ‘Heat Heroes’.

Do you have a message for your volunteers and potential volunteers?

A huge thanks to all the volunteers who have given up their time to support householders to make their homes warm, comfortable and healthy environments for them to live in. Fancy making a difference with older people in Edinburgh? Get involved and become a Heat Hero!