One of the great privileges of being the Mayor is to nominate a charity. My chosen charity is Age UK Worcester and Malvern Hills.
Future mayors take note – you are very likely to be lobbied by a number of charities to get your seal of approval. I didn’t find it easy and gave quite a bit of thought to my choice. I wanted to do something for the environment and social justice.
Last year I chaired a cross-party city council group looking at ways we could, as a council, help to support residents in the cost-of-living crisis. With massively increased energy costs I know that many people last winter were living in fuel poverty having to choose between heating and eating. Fuel poverty is defined as any household that is paying more than 10% of their income on energy costs. Money for the gas or electricity meter is vital right now but British homes are often very poorly insulated – what are we doing to reduce heating bills in the first place? Social landlords have been gradually upgrading homes with better boilers, double glazing and wall insulation. And organisations such as Act on Energy have helped many low-income owner occupiers upgrade their homes too. But there is still a gap. There are very many, often older, owner-occupiers living in draughty homes with a letter box falling off or in need of very low-cost sealing strips around their front door or windows. It’s a disgrace that heat and therefore money is disappearing through the cracks.
Step forward Age UK. Age UK provide a trusted service where they visit a resident’s home to provide a free energy assessment and give them advice on how they can reduce their costs but most importantly they will often install things like low energy bulbs and draught excluding strips right there and then. There are so many other reasons to support Age UK from the work they do to tackle loneliness, digital exclusion and money and debit advice. Please take a look at their city centre charity shops. Can you help me spread the word about the great work they do? If you are in a position to do so, would you consider making a donation via the Mayor’s charity page?