On Friday 27th – Monday 30th January, Fuel Poverty Action are staging a weekend of Winter Warm-ups across the country (http://fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com/events-coming-up/)
Here’s a step by step guide to planning a Warm-up in your local area…
1. Who is affected…Fuel poverty disproportionately affects young children, pensioners, people suffering from illnesses, disabled people, students and others on low incomes. Think about contacting mothers & toddler groups, pensioners’ groups, student organisations, disability groups, residents associations, tenants associations. Before you plan your warm-up, it’s a good idea to chat with some of these people and discuss the idea of a warm-up with them. See what they think of the idea, whether it’s something they’d like to help plan or participate in, and what they’d like to get out of a warm-up.
2. Find a group of people who want to plan a warm-up together. This can be anything from a group of people fed up with extortionate energy bills, a group of friends, a coalition of people from different groups, an existing group such as an anti-cuts group or environmental organisation, or a combination of any of these! A really successful warm-up can be planned by a few people with a spare few hours, so don’t worry if you don’t have masses of people!
3. Choose a place to warm-up… Fuel poverty is being driven by the collusion of the government, public and private landlords, and energy companies. These institutions are ensuring that private profits and cuts are being prioritised over people’s rights to warm homes, a safe environment and a say in where our energy comes from. We can challenge the government, the Big Six, and housing providers by warming-up in the toasty buildings that house them. Possible targets include town halls, council offices, housing associations, government departments, the offices of the Big Six and cultural and sporting venues sponsored by the Big Six.
4. Inside or outside…You need to decide whether you want your warm-up inside or outside your target. Getting inside and occupying is a powerful way of challenging the power of your target, as we’ve seen with UK Uncut actions against tax-dodging corporations across the country. But before you decide to warm-up inside, your group needs to have a discussion about what people feel comfortable with. It’s also a good idea to have a plan for how to respond if the police turn up and ask you to leave, so decide beforehand whether you want to stay, or all leave together if asked. (For activist legal info, see http://www.activistslegalproject.org.uk/resources.html). The presence of the local paper and a photographer can make all the difference, too! You can also warm-up outside! Chilly weather can be got around with blankets, hot water bottles, flasks of tea, tents (maybe even a campfire of burning energy bills!) and you’ll be in a great position for leafleting and talking to the public.
5. Location location location… If you want to be outside your target, then think about where you want to be: do you want to be in front of the doors, or do you want to be out of the way but still visible? If you want to get inside your target, you need to think about how to do this. It’s a good idea to check out your location beforehand to work out how to go about getting where you want to be. You need to think about questions such as: are doors locked or controlled by swipe-cards? Are there security guards? How can you get inside? If you want to stay for a long period of time, how can you do this and what provisions will you need?
6. Choose a meeting-point to advertise publically… If you want to advertise your event publically and you’re planning to warm-up inside, then you need to think about how to do this without being stopped. One way to do this is to arrange an easy meet up point somewhere away from but nearby to your target like a train station or public landmark. If you do this, then you might want to have a plan for moving people from the meet-up point to your target, such as having flags or music to follow. You still might want to consider this if you’re planning to warm-up outside, although it is unlikely that you will be stopped from assembling outside a building.
7. Think about what you want to do while you’re warming-up… It’s great to include a visual or theatrical element such as destroying energy bills, huddling together to warm each other up, giving yourselves frozen blue lips and white faces, clutching flasks of tea and hot water bottles and blankets…Also, warm-ups are a fantastic opportunity for public meetings to discuss the problems raised by high energy bills in your area, to give people a chance to speak out about their bills and how cold their homes are, to draw up a local campaign plan, to form a new Fuel Poverty Action group and to discuss visions for a new just and sustainable energy system. You might decide that you want to come up with a public statement or a set of demands in your warm-up? You can use the Occupy movement’s human microphone method. This works with big crowds and when you lack a megaphone. It involves repeating whatever the person speaking is saying as a group so that everyone hears it. Alternatively, just use a megaphone or portable amp. It’s up to you, so get creative!
8. Publicity… A really successful warm-up can be organised by a small group without further participants on the day. But, if you’ve got the time to publicise your warm-up, the more people you get along, the better. So, if you can, publicise your warm-up far and wide! Make a leaflet (you can find a template on our website) and distribute it in public places, at other demonstrations and anywhere you think there will be cold and up for it people! Get posters up everywhere: pubs, cafes, public spaces and social centres! Spread the word round all the relevant email lists you can think of! Make a Facebook event and share this widely! Set up a Twitter account and start Tweeting about your warm-up! Go to other groups’ meetings to talk about your plan and get them involved. Obvious groups to link up with are anti-cuts groups, student organisations, environmental groups and any relevant campaigning groups or networks in your area. Also, email [email protected] to let us know about the warm-up you are planning and we will publicise it too!
9. Media…Try and compile a list of local media contacts that you think would be interested in covering your warm-up. If you think that your warm-up is something that national media would be interested in, email [email protected] for some contacts. The really important thing to do is to email a press release and photographs of your warm-up out to your media contacts immediately after your warm-up is finished. If you would like a press release template for your warm-up, email [email protected] and we’ll send you one. If you’ve got the time, it’s also a good idea to send a press release out a few days before the action. This can be a lot briefer and simply include the key details of your action – date, time, meet-up place, contact details for questions and a short blurb (but obviously if your target is secret – just give the meet-up place!) It’s also good to follow up this prior press release by ringing around the contacts you’ve sent it to in order to check they received it, to answer any questions they might have and to find out whether they will be sending reporters or photographers to the warm-up. You might want to consider agreeing on a media spokesperson to talk to journalists whilst the warm-up is happening, and it’s definitely worth agreeing on some key messages to convey to the media. It’s also worth buying a new cheap phone and setting up a new email account to be used for media contact details as it’s can be better to avoid giving journalists your personal details. For more useful media tips, see http://pressgang.noblogs.org/files/2012/01/ActionMediaTeam.pdf
10. Afterwards…A warm-up will be a great opportunity to make links with people who want to start taking action on fuel poverty. So make sure that you collect the contact details of all that attend. Why not arrange a follow-up meeting for people to debrief and reflect upon how the warm-up went and, hopefully, to think about how a more permanent group or campaign could be built.
**A leaflet that can be handed out during the action will be uploaded here soon!**
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/350821344932887/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fuel-Poverty-Action/272943569430814
Email: [email protected]
In November, we died-in to mark the thousands of deaths last Winter caused by fuel poverty. Please share this film widely.
As the government cuts its Winter Fuel Allowance, and the Big Six reap in record profits, its now time to warm-up in January…
Find out more about the Fuel Poverty Action Weekend of Winter Warm-ups here, join and invite all your friends to the Facebook event, and keep your eye on @FuelPovAction on Twitter for updates…
Friday, January 27th – Monday, January 30th
It’s January. It’s freezing. Christmas emptied the coffers and now the bills are starting to bite. As the Big Six energy companies rake in profits of 700% and the government freezes the fuel allowance, it’s time to tell the Big Six and the government that we’ve had enough!
Fuel poverty is a public issue, not a private pain. One in four families in the UK is shivering, out of sight, behind closed doors. The government and energy companies may want to keep it this way, but we say this can’t go on.
In the UK, six companies are deciding how 99% of our energy is sourced, produced and priced. Under this monopoly, we have no say in these decisions, despite them having a major effect on our health and our climate.
On the last weekend of January, Fuel Poverty Action will be heating things up!
We’re calling for people to come out of their cold homes and into the warm offices of the Big Six: E.ON, EDF, Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern, Centrica (British Gas), and Npower.
We can also warm-up at the town halls and housing associations, which are putting profit and cuts before people’s welfare.
Bearing flasks of tea and our own experiences of landlords that won’t listen, unaffordable bills, tuition fees, and debts, as well as cuts in services, benefits and working conditions, our winter warm-ups will be taking place wherever cuts are biting and warm spaces look inviting.
This is a call to anti-cuts groups, local youth and pensioner organisations, and anyone suffering in the cold this winter because they can’t afford the heating.
We can find ways forward, collectively, by making ourselves heard by the government and the energy companies. But what do we demand? Some things are clear: Decent shelter and warmth are a right, not a privilege. We should all have well insulated, warm homes and affordable bills that don’t make us choose between eating and heating. But how do we achieve this? What alternatives are there to a corporate controlled energy industry? How do we shift to sustainable, renewable energy? As we Warm-up we’ll be discussing these important questions and forming a plan to achieve it, come and join us!
Stop shivering in silence, let’s warm-up together!
Details of local actions will be announced here.
The January actions are just the beginning! Fuel Poverty Action is a group of the Climate Justice Collective, which is planning a mass action in late April / May. If you and your group want to get more involved, come to a planning meeting on Saturday, February 18th, 2011 in Oxford. Look out for an email or check the CJC website for more info closer to the time: http://climatejusticecollective.wordpress.com
Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
Today, fifty protesters staged a ‘die-in’ protest at the head office of EDF, one of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies – protesters claim that the government and Big Six energy companies share responsibility for thousands of deaths caused by fuel poverty.
The protest was a response to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics this morning, which reveal that there were 25,700 excess winter deaths last winter in comparison to other seasons. Many of these deaths were due to the fact that people could not afford to heat their homes. Protesters claimed that the government was letting energy companies profit whilst leaving people to die in the cold.
The protesters carried a coffin, marked with the number of excess winter deaths, in a funeral procession from Parliament Square to the head office of EDF and ‘died’ on the ground outside wrapped in blankets and clutching hot water bottles under a banner reading, “Warmth to meet our needs, not for corporate greed”.
Samia Mitchell, a member of Fuel Poverty Action, said:
“Government and business are putting profits first and peoples’ lives second in deciding who gets to keep warm this winter. By continuing to support unsustainable fossil fuels over sustainable renewables, cutting the Winter Fuel Payment and shutting day centres, libraries, axing jobs and public services, millions are literally being left out in the cold. People shouldn’t have to decide between eating and heating. The ability to keep warm should not be dictated by how much money you have in your pocket. We want to see public control over how and from where our fuel comes from”.
– Fuel poverty is defined as expenditure of 10% or more of household income on fuel.
– According to the government-commissioned Hills Poverty Review, 2,700 people – a conservative estimate – will die this winter as a direct result of being ‘fuel poor’.
– An April 2011 YouGov survey found that nearly 1 in 4 households (24% or 6.3million homes) were suffering fuel poverty. 
Jules Carpenter, a supporter of the protest, and mother of two, added:
“If the government supported a transition to renewable energy, people wouldn’t face this problem. Green measures are not the cause of high bills and fuel poverty – turning energy into a commodity and corporate competition to find cheaper, yet finite fossil fuels are. Green changes wouldn’t cost more if the government put climate agreements and health before bailing out the banks”
– Each of the six major energy suppliers in the UK raised their prices over the Summer of 2011.
– The government’s ‘Green Deal’ will insulate homes if customers are willing to sign up to what could be a thirty-year debt repayment. Critics point out, whilst insulation is necessary, it should not depend on ability to pay or stay in one property for decades. This is an unrealistic prospect for many single and low-income tenants.
The Fuel Poverty Action group, and other groups, are also planning a nationwide ‘warm in ‘ on the 27th and 28th of January which will see people occupying warm spaces, such as corporate buildings, in order to keep warm and highlight the injustice of energy pricing.
Notes to editors:
The Fuel Poverty Action group is a project of the Climate Justice Collective (CJC). The CJC has emerged out of Climate Camp UK. Fuel Poverty Action aims to expose the economic and environmental causes of fuel poverty and take action to realise energy democracy and climate justice. We are the 99%.
 Please contact 07542 358 310 for details of the location on the day.
 For the full Poverty Review see: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/Fuel_poverty/Hills_Review/Hills_Review.aspx
Tuesday November 22nd
Meet 10.30 am, Parliament Square.
In the UK, thousands of people die every year because they cannot afford to heat their homes. The UK’s Big Six energy companies’ price hike mean five-year record profits for them (over 700% profit per customer) and cold homes for us.
Instead of supporting genuinely free insulation, proper housing, and alternative, democratically controlled energy systems, the government is helping its corporate allies maintain a monopoly on who gets to keep warm and how.
Society’s most vulnerable people including pensioners, babies, and people who are ill or disabled, face the toughest winter in years as the choice between heating and eating starts to bite.
These same energy companies are also relentlessly investing in fossil fuels at the cost of countless lives through climate change and pollution.
On Tuesday 22nd November, the government will announce its excess winter death statistics for 2010-2011, revealing the extra deaths last winter in comparison to other seasons. On this day, join Fuel Poverty Action’s funeral and ‘die-in’ to expose Big Six and government collusion.
We will meet at 10.30, Parliament Square and proceed to a Big Six target and use our cold and‘dead’ bodies to disrupt their operations. Bring a blanket..
The Big Bill: a Fuel Poverty Action teach-in
Saturday 5th November
Tottenham Chances, 399 High Rd, Tottenham, London, N17 6QN
In the winter, thousands of people die of the cold in Britain – a scandal in a country where power companies are reaping record profits, and £850 billion is spent on bailing out banks. A large proportion of the population do not have access to decent heating or good housing, and many also have so little money that it’s a hard choice between heating, eating, or paying the rent.
Launching the new group – Fuel Poverty Action – a project of the Climate Justice Collective, this teach-in will be an opportunity for climate activists, local organizers and everyone concerned about high energy bills to discuss what high prices and poorly insulated homes mean for all of us, and see what we can do to ensure that everyone has fair access to heating and electricity.
As climate activists, we do not buy the lie that fuel prices are inflated by the need for green energy. The same vampire companies that are hiking up prices are spewing out the greenhouse gases that threaten a climate catastrophe. All they care about is their own bottom line, while millions of families live in cold homes and pay even higher rates for their gas and electric than people in big warm homes pay on direct debits.
At the same time, energy companies are seeking out increasingly destructive ways to extract and produce energy like tar sands, shale gas, deep sea oil and gas, new nuclear, biofuels, opencast coal mining and mountaintop removal mining. A cleaner, sustainable energy economy controlled by people for people – not for profit – could release families from the dilemma of having to choose between food and warmth. Sun, wind, and tides will not run out, and do not cost the earth!
12.30: Introduction including “What is fuel poverty? And “what’s the climate got to do with it?” – with a chance to introduce what you have been thinking and doing.
1.00: Who pays? Living with high energy bills, bad housing, and unfair pricing policies.
1.30: Who gains? The market, the “Big Six” energy companies, who’s profiting from high fuel prices, government subsidies and greenwash, and Frankenstein Fuels
3.00: What can we do about it? Intro and group discussions. Including: Knowing your rights / Cooperative energy schemes / Exposing the profiteers and their friends in high places / Fighting for the right to a secure, draught-free, energy-efficient home.
5.00: What next? Including information on the 22 November Winter Deaths Demonstration, and moving forward with the campaign.
LET US KNOW
You are welcome to just turn up on the day, but it would be really helpful if you can let us know in advance if you’re likely to come, or if there’s something you’d particularly like to discuss, by emailing [email protected]
There’s a good Turkish restaurant/take-away just over the road (they do falafels!) Or please feel free to bring your own food or food to share – we know people will want to eat while we get to know each other during the introductory session. Hot drinks, snacks and a microwave will be available.
Please let us know in advance by emailing [email protected] if you would like to bring children with you and we will do what we can to take care of their energy needs!
Tottenham Chances can be found at 399 High Road, Tottenham, N17 6QN. It’s near excellent transport links. A map can be found here: http://www.tchances.co.uk/
If you need crash space for Friday or Saturday evening, let us know by emailing [email protected]
Organised by Fuel Poverty Action