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Zara’s Story: Energy & Money Advice for Asylum Seekers

Zara is one of many people supported through organisations like Citizen’s Advice each year, as part of the funding and support the British Gas Energy Trust provides.

Northumberland Citizens Advice were awarded a grant by the Trust to create an innovative project to support refugees and asylum seekers with money and energy advice.

Zara has been living in Northumberland as an asylum seeker for three years. She was attending an English lesson in the church hall when she met the team from Citizens Advice who were there to offer drop-in advice sessions. She says,

“I think it is an absolutely wonderful project and I believe it is vital that asylum seekers are prepared and well informed before they will start to pay their electricity bills because there might be completely different procedures in different countries. And moreover lots of people have no experience with such procedures.

At the moment there are lots of people in Northumberland from countries where it is never cold and getting advice on how to keep their homes warm in the winter time would be very useful support for them.”

Northumberland Citizens Advice said,

“Many individuals and families arriving in the UK as refugees or seeking asylum here come from countries where energy industries and practices are vastly different from what they are here.

Our climate often differs too, meaning that high heating bills are likely in the majority of cases. If not correctly understood, highly inefficient household energy habits can quickly be formed putting those households at risk of high energy costs that they are unlikely to be able to afford to maintain when they become liable for these costs. We want to ensure that these households are able to access the right advice to reduce this risk and offer a greater understanding of how to manage their household bills moving forward.”