Experts help take the heat out of soaring energy bills

The Oxford Times: Kimberleigh McNicol talks to Sojan Jacob   about saving money on his utility bills.Picture: OX64039 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo » Kimberleigh McNicol talks to Sojan Jacob about saving money on his utility bills.Picture: OX64039 Damian Halliwell

CASH-saving tips were given out at an advice event aimed at people facing money problems on the Wood Farm estate.

Residents who came to the free session picked up hints on how to save up to £500 on annual energy bills and were also told what support was available to them in the city.

The session at The Slade and Headington Children’s Centre on Tuesday was organised by Oxford City Council and advisers were on hand from the authority, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and service comparison firm USwitch.

Similar sessions have been run at the centre previously but this was the first one to specifically address rising energy bills. Helen Thompson, the city council’s locality officer, said Wood Farm was targeted as it was an area of low employment and income.

She said about 45 residents came to the drop-in event in Titup Hall Drive which allowed advisors to spend “quality time” with each of them.

She said: “It is about giving high quality information in an area where there is a need for that information.

“There are quite significant savings to be made, hence the importance of sharing this information.”

She said the sessions could now take place elsewhere in the city, adding: “I don’t see why we couldn’t look to replicate these in other areas.”

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Adviser Kimberleigh Mc-Nicol, a volunteer at the children’s centre, said: “It is good to bring awareness. “There were two parents who were especially keen. They were grateful because they didn’t know what their rights were.”

The mother-of-two from Masons Road in Wood Farm, said people could save up to £500 on annual bills, adding: “It is the small things that people might not realise but can save them quite a bit.”

Sojan Jacob, 38, from Chillingworth Crescent in Wood Farm, said he now hoped to cut his bills.

He said: “It was good for me to look at ways to save on bills.”

Leticia Bradbury, 35, who lives in Rede Close, Wood Farm, picked up advice on returning to work when her 16-month-old son Owen goes to nursery.

She said: “It was helpful just thinking about what I can do when I get back to work. It was a very useful event to have everybody there.”

The event was backed by Mark Lygo, city council member for Churchill, who contributed £350 from his ward member budget for the area.

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