Throughout spring the lab did a huge piece of work into how Bromford could proactively tackle issues around fuel poverty.
One such action was the creation of the Affordable Warmth Network - in essence a bunch of people from all corners of Bromford whos job it is to make everyone else aware of fuel poverty and understand how to handle it.
As this is the first winter that the Network is in play, I, along with the Insight Team have been monitoring the number of fuel poverty cases being flagged.
We asked our 20 Housing Managers in Gloucestershire to record all their interactions with customers which are about warmth. Significantly, this is being done through the same methods we use to record all our customer interactions - we didn't ask them to use something new or different. We were also careful not to brand this as a test as we didn't want it to be something that only happens at this point in time but rather we wanted to encourage it into becoming the norm.
Now that we are half way through winter we've checked in on what's been happening.
What is particularly promising is the number of customers which our housing managers are identifying whilst out visiting customers. This has demonstrated to us that warmth is now seeping into the psyche of our colleagues and is becoming more recognisable.
From an evaluation perspective, although colleagues were happy to provide us with the necessary data when we asked for it in the same way as always, they were less keen to give us other feedback. As part of the monitoring period we asked colleagues to fill in an online questionnaire for some qualitative feedback on the study.
Overcoming this barrier is hard, especially if individuals don't understand why we feel we need the data. Without understanding why, it becomes a bureaucratic exercise which colleagues want to avoid therefore we are having to take a different approach for this.
The final evaluation on warmth cases is due in March - when the colder winter months will hopefully be behind us. For right now, however, we are pleased with the results of the first 9 weeks.