What Fuel Poverty Action have been up to in 2014 and where we're going in 2015

It’s the end of 2014 and time to reflect on what we’ve done, and to look forward to the future for what comes next for Fuel Poverty Action.

We’ve had a really great year in many ways but it’s been really difficult too – at times we have struggled with money (we got rejected from lots of funds we applied to, although you can donate here if you want to help our financial situation) and sometimes we’ve struggled with low numbers at meetings, so we haven’t always been able to do as much as we want to.
So, we do need you – if you can support what we do in any way – get stuck in, come along to meetings, paint banners, help us fill in funding applications, join a working group, defend people from debt shark companies and unwanted pre-payment meters, give us ideas, help us to co-host workshops or training sessions, and come along to meetings if you like – we really do need you!
Read on to hear all about our exciting 2014!
This year saw the launch of the new Energy Bill of Rights and our Guide to existing rights (read more below), as well as a multitude of workshops, talks, coffee mornings, protests and more!From coffee mornings with the brilliant Digs Hackney Renters groups, and Hornsey Pensioners Association…We’ve been part of workshops and conferences with Warwick students, students in Sevenoaks, Boycott Workfare, on Energy Democracy, with Jubilee Debt Campaign…and done talks at the Lewisham Pensioners, Islington Pensioners, with our friends the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, the PCS Conference fringe and more..

We’ve supported protests including: Save Legal Aid alongside women from Crossroads Womens’ Centre, Fracked Futures Carnival, Reclaim the Power camp in Blackpool, Shian Housing Association with Haringay Housing Group, and protests to Save the Independent Living Fund with DPAC….  We took part in the week-long anti-fracking Reclaim the Power camp in Blackpool.

We disrupted the British Gas AGM back in May with Shakespeare’s “to heat or not to heat” and a speak-out outside , and held a rowdy demo and die-in with pensioners in Regent Street on the day the government revealed the numbers of Excess Winter Deaths at the end of November.

See more pictures from our protests here, plus memes.

In October we held a huge and buzzing launch event at the House of Commons for the Energy Bill of Rights.
More than 100 people from very different groups gathered together to express passion for big change to our energy system so that it is affordable, sustainable and democratic.
You can find out which MPs have already backed the EDM 395 in support of the Energy Bill of Rights here and read our full report of the event here
Why not contact your MP to ask them to sign it if they haven’t already?

We’ve got ourselves skilled up in dealing with energy debt,  and then delivered/co-facilitated Energy Rights training sessions with Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, Hackney Housing Group, English for Action (ESOL group) and strengthened our relationship with the London Coalition Against Poverty.

Throughout the year we’ve also supported  people who are fighting for energy justice from their individuals and groups facing issues with their energy company and or a housing association, as individuals or collectively: a growing resistance movement. There’s  and we’ve got a new tab on our website which we’ll be updating with the ‘struggles and successes‘ that we’ve been involved in this year:
One pensioner couple, for instance, turned around a “mistaken” £10,000 bill from British Gas and instead won compensation.  And half a dozen groups of tenants we’re in touch with are resisting being forced into inefficient or super-expensive schemes with one monopoly company by their housing association (what “choice”?!)
As we want to take more of a ‘radical self- help’ or ‘mutual aid’ perspective on our individual struggles with energy debt and harassment from energy suppliers, we have written lots of resources ready for everyone to use. We would encourage you to check out our ‘In trouble with you energy company?A mini-guide to your rights’ and Know Your Rights cards. You can print them as you wish or get in touch to have our printed version sent to you,We’ve had a fair amount of media coverage, from national newspapers, TV channels and radio stations, but perhaps our favourite is the most recent article by Ken Savage from the Greater London Pensioners’ Association in the Guardian and an interesting review of the Energy Bill of Rights launch in the London Review of Books.

It’s also been a year of international solidarity for Fuel Poverty Action!
In June, the group Coordinator had the opportunity to go to Germany to meet energy and housing activists and learn about and get inspired by their struggles, and then wrote this blog.
We sent our solidarity to the Detroit Water Brigade fighting water privitisation and water cut offs in the USA, and got solidarity back!

We also got a great statement of support for the Energy Bill of Rights from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty as well as from Liddy, an activist from Jubilee South, and were pretty chuffed to have activist-writer Naomi Klein big us up at not 1 but 2 of her talks in the UK!
Where now in 2015?
energybillof right
Energy Bill of Rights
Where we go next with the Energy Bill of Rights is in many ways up to you. We’ve got an EDM going through Parliament that needs support and a union motion that we’d love unions to pass. We’re aware the 2015 election is also now only 5 months away too and we think this is a good time to be having important discussions about Energy Democracy with aswell.
FPA and working groups
We’ve got lots we want to do in 2015 and we’re planning to shake up the way we organise a bit in the new year. We’re looking for people who want to get involved, particularly on particular strands of our work.
We reckon that quite a lot of people might be interested in doing the ‘Energy Rights’ trainings or doing court support for people who don’t want a prepayment meter installed, but you don’t have time to go to the whole group meeting and be involved in all areas of our work. We hope our new way of organising will be fleshed out in the new year in a strategy meeting in January. Let us know if you want to get involved in the new year in whatever way works for you.
Have a great holiday and happy 2015. We hope you’ll continue to join us and support us in 2015- come to a meeting, get involved in a working group, join in at a protest
or if you can please donate to our work!
FPA xx