BRITISH Gas has teamed up with the Examiner today to call on readers to apply for `here to HELP'.
Let British Gas take care of the nation's homes - sign up to `here to HELP' and you may be able to:
* Insulate your home for free
* Make sure you're claiming for all you're entitled to
* Benefit from tailor-made products and services from the programme's charity partners
British Gas is investing £100 million a year helping vulnerable customers, the fuel-poor and those claiming benefit.
The `here to HELP' programme encompasses energy efficiency measures, a benefits health check, and a full range of services from our charity partners, which are offered to people depending on their circumstances.
These could include household security measures, products for specific disabilities, advice and support packages tailored to individual needs, together with debt and money advice. People who are eligible may be entitled to:
* Energy efficiency products and advice, such as free or subsidised cavity wall and loft insulation to help keep homes warmer and save money on energy bills
* Increased income through benefits assessments.
* Free, tailored advice and services from `here to HELP' charity partners for families, older and disabled people, those with sight difficulties and people with debt problems.
THE British Gas `here to HELP' programme has been set up in partnership with several major charities to help make up to one million homes warm, safe and comfortable.
What are the benefits?
Local Authorities and Housing Associations can also benefit from British Gas funding for energy efficiency products and other `here to HELP' services for their communities.
`here to HELP' is based on a collaboration of partners from the public, private, and voluntary sectors. It remains unique in bringing together a fragmented approach into a seamless, single programme.
How does the programme work for me?
The `here to HELP' programme has three elements:
1 `here to HELP' Survey
A `here to HELP' representative will visit you to conduct a free home survey to check what energy efficiency measures are needed for your home, which could help reduce your heating bills.
2 Energy efficiency measures
A few weeks after your home survey you will receive a letter from `here to HELP' telling you if you are entitled to FREE home insulation. You will also be notified when we will be able to come back to your home and install it.
3 Other benefits
After the home survey, British Gas `here to HELP' team will call you to advise you of other ways `here to HELP' can help you.
Who can apply for here to HELP?
* Anyone can benefit from `here to HELP'. You don't need to be a British Gas customer. People can contact British Gas and a team of experts are ready to help. People can benefit from:
Free home insulation, benefits check and assistance from the charity partners if they are in receipt of government benefits.
Subsidised home insulation, if they are able to pay.
British Gas is working in 675 communities, in partnership with social housing providers and the chosen charities.
Who are the charity partners and what part do they play in here to HELP?
Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) - the UK's leading charity offering practical support and advice to anyone with sight problems.
It offers practical help around the home through a wide range of products and adaptations, such as special markings to indicate settings on cookers and heating controls.
It provides advice about how improving lighting around the house and using magnifying glasses can help make the most of a person's sight.
It also offers expert advice about social security benefits and other sources of financial help.
It has links with local groups, which enables it to put people in touch with social and recreational activities in their area.
Scope - the national disability charity, focusing on those with cerebral palsy and related disabilities. In Scotland we are working with Capability Scotland - Scotland's leading disability charity.
It provides advice, information and support through eight regional community teams across England and Wales.
It offers information about local services and counselling.
It also offers assistance in accessing equipment and practical support.
Help the Aged - the leading national charity working on behalf of older people.
It delivers the HandyVan service, where available - installing home security equipment in the homes of vulnerable older people.
It offers SeniorLink units - enabling access to a personal, immediate-response telephone service, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It provides access to SeniorLine, a free and confidential telephone service that provides welfare rights advice for older people and their carers.
Save the Children - is the leading international children's charity working to make a lasting difference to the lives of vulnerable children.
It provides grants, targeted at `here to HELP' zones, that will fund up to 100 projects a year for children and young people to undertake initiatives to make a positive difference in their community.
It provides a website called Help Yourselves that will showcase examples of the projects funded to inspire and enable other children and young people who want to make a positive impact on their local area.
National Debtline - part of the Money Advice Trust. It provides a free, confidential and independent telephone helpline for people with debt problems in England, Scotland and Wales.
It provides a free phone service to help those who have debt problems. Customers can call confidentially to speak to a trained adviser.
It offers a specific free self-help pack (for people in rented accommodation or people with mortgages). The packs cover personal budgets, debt prioritisation, offers of payment and how to deal with court procedures.
Progress report so far?
`here to HELP' progress to date (21st July 2005):
Homes 414,300 homes have signed up to the programme.
Benefits assessment Almost £6.6million pounds of unclaimed benefits has already been identified this equates to an average benefit gain per qualifying household of £1,300 per annum.
Referrals Nearly 33,000 homes have been referred to one or more of the charities involved with the programme. Over 90% of the referrals are completely new contacts for the charities.