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New Swansea city centre service will help people through cost of living crisis

A popular service has returned to Swansea city centre to help local householders through the cost of living crisis.

The Switched On energy awareness hub has opened in High Street to offer free advice and guidance on keeping fuel bills as low as possible.

The service, funded by Swansea Council and operated by Environment Centre Swansea, first operated in nearby Nelson Street in the first half of this year.

It has an ongoing programme of community visits that regularly takes practical tips to easily accessible venues in Swansea neighbourhoods.

Council joint deputy leader Andrea Lewis said: “Our support to local people is especially important in these difficult times.

“I’m glad that Switched On is back in the city centre – free and accessible to all – and that our community outreach programme has been extended to March.

“I thank all our partners – including staff and friends of the Environment Centre – who continue to help in the delivery of this service.”

Switched On is now open at: Swansea Community Workshops, 208 High Street, every Thursday and Friday from 10am-4pm.

It offers face-to-face discussions for those concerned about their energy bills, with support and information available for fuel payment schemes, energy efficiency improvement grants and general home energy use.

The community outreach sessions are being held in venues such as Gorseinon Library, Townhill’s Phoenix Centre, Morriston Library, Clydach Library and Penlan Foodbank in the South Penlan Community Centre.

Swansea Environment Centre estimates that the assistance could have helped local residents collectively save more than £36,000 a year in fuel bills through energy efficiency improvements.

It may have allowed householders to access more than £12,000 in financial support for fuel payments.

It will also help the city become net zero carbon by 2050, a target to which the council is already working.

Rhian Corcoran, manager of Environment Centre Swansea, said: “People concerned about the costs of fuel to themselves or relatives have been visiting our city centre hub or community events – or have been looking for advice on our web pages.

“Many people will be reassured that this services will continue and has a highly visible new presence at the heart of the city centre.”

The service’s guidance is backed by a network of experts and it can help whoever needs assistance.

Around 1,300 people have sought guidance so far. Key discussion points have been helping residents to access fuel payment support schemes and promoting energy efficiency improvements.

Advice includes information to all on how to better insulate homes, switch energy providers and access support on welfare rights.

Key advice so far has included:

  • Contact your energy or water supplier and ask what help is available for you. They may be able to reduce direct debit payments this winter.
  • Prevent heat loss by using draught excluders, closing windows and keeping curtains closed after dark. This will help to trap your home’s heat.
  • If you suffer with the cold, consider using an electric blanket for short periods instead of heating a whole room during the day. This will be more efficient.

Swansea Energy Awareness Hub partners and supporters have included energy network operator Western Power Distribution, the National Energy Agency, fuel poverty specialist Warm Wales, council departments, youth charity Swansea MAD, EON Energy, City Energy and Yes Energy Solutions.