This week…I was very lucky to be invited to have coffee with one of my most loyal members. After four years you can imagine the number of members we have means I so rarely get a chance to do this. He asked lots of questions and then said: “I think this is the most pioneering and ethical investment idea I have ever seen”. He promptly then wrote a cheque for a large amount of money and he added: “when I first read the email about the [Community OIL] fund, I thought ‘he’s saved me £400 a year for four years I will invest that’, but I have this sat in one account earning me less than 2%, benefitting no one and I have heard enough. This way I help you help to stop people freezing to death and I earn a very decent return – pioneering”.
The 250th…because of the amazing early investors that stepped forward to start the fund this week we went past the 250 mark. The Community OIL Fund has now helped 250 homes out of what we call OIL Fuel Poverty. There are many amazing human stories so far and this is one of those that makes me most proud: this is Catherine’s story…
Catherine is around 70, a widow and living extremely frugally, but within her means, to make ends meet. She is a tenant of a housing association. That should mean she gets as much advice and protection against debt, the cold and all associated energy issues as she needs. She doesn’t. I have learnt that Housing Associations simply do not have the capacity to achieve the Duty of Care level that I believe they should. When I met Catherine to show her how our project works, she explained how little she uses her heating and that 500 litres could last her a whole year! She had run out in March and has not used it since – remember how April and May were still very cold. Why has she lived without? Because she simply doesn’t have the £320 or more that she would need to buy 500 litres. When I explained how this would work, that she could have the OIL now and spread the costs via a budget plan through the year, at a cost of £7 a week, she cried. This always gets to me. Catherine now has her OIL. We have a payment plan in place that covers her OIL and gives our investors a return. But you know what will be the very best thing about this is when – having monitored her usage via the online readings from the smart meter we put on her tank – I am able to tell her that she is slightly over paying, so why doesn’t she take a payment holiday for the two weeks over Christmas and the New Year. “I can’t believe that someone would be so generous to lend money so I can be warm” she said as she tried in vain to wipe up the tears.
The Community OIL Fund…is without a doubt the most remarkable step forward in the fight against Fuel Poverty for OIL users in the UK. It is completely unique. It is all part of our remarkable journey as we continue to create change in an archaic energy business.
Proud…we are extremely proud to be playing this role and as a result we have become “lead supporter” of this campaign: http://www.energybillrevolution.org/whos-behind-it/ – please do sign the petition whilst you are there, but look out for our logo on this page within all the others.
Our video…a four minute insight into what the issue is really all about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhxOsIvu7UU will tell you even more.
Finally…there are 50,000 homes with people in a similar position to Catherine who live with the feeling they are not included in mainstream society. There are probably 300,000 homes in total that could really benefit from this system. Our task is huge because there isn’t anyone else out there going to help us. Which leaves me one simple question: do you, or any person or organisation that you are connected to, want to help us get to the next 250, by becoming part of the “most pioneering and ethical investment idea ever”? We would be completely delighted to hear from any one with offers of support: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember all she needed was a system where she could pay back £7 a week – doesn’t sound too difficult does it really? So how come nobody has ever come close to devising this concept before…because most look for complexity when simplicity is what they need.