Record growth for Boldon firm GoWarm
A COMPANY set up to help people get out of fuel poverty has witnessed record levels of growth over the past 12 months and has seen its turnover grow from £3.5m to £5m as a result of a nationwide expansion.
Community interest company GoWarm has helped some of the region’s most disadvantaged people claim around £1m in unclaimed benefits since it was set up two years ago, mainly through fitting loft and cavity wall insulation in their homes.
The firm, based in Boldon, South Tyneside, has also grown its workforce over the last two years as demand grew for its service, and now employs 29 full-time staff, up from 16, and 60 self-employed part-time workers, up from 35.
The initiative, which provides its services for free or at a heavily discounted rate, was initially set up with the help of £835,000 of Government funding, but is now supported by utility companies looking to pass on energy efficiencies to their companies in order to hit their own carbon-reduction targets.
The company, which has helped more than 250,000 homes install the measures, now works with 20 local authorities across the UK as a result of its success in the North East.
As well as working in Stockton, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Durham in the North East, the firm is now providing its services to residents of North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, Peterborough, Norwich and Cambridge.
It is now looking to increase its coverage within Yorkshire as well as expanding into Cumbria over the coming months.
The firm has also recently increased its range of services and now provides more elderly residents with a local “handyman” service to help them deal with smaller jobs around the home.
It is ready to introduce a gas connection service, which will allow residents to tap into local supplies over 23 miles away.
GoWarm director Karen Hindhaugh said: “Our experience in community engagement and doorstep assessing has been used the length and breadth of the country to tackle fuel poverty and support gas extension projects.
“The demand for our services has always been high as a result of the economic downturn, but has risen sharply recently as a result of increased living costs.”
The company, which made £800,000 in its first year, provides its services free of charge for those over the age of 70 who are suffering fuel poverty, and also covers those on income support, pension credit and housing benefit.
Mrs Hindhaugh said: “We expect our services to become more popular even as the country pulls itself out of the downturn.
“Fuel prices are going up all the time and more and more people are realising the benefits of things like insulation.”