A FREE energy advice service has teamed up with foodbanks to help people struggling with rising fuel costs.

Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy (WWCE), a not for profit society, has been popping up in and around Salisbury with advice for people looking to save money by cutting down on energy use.

The action comes after it was revealed that more than three million people across the UK are now in debt to their energy supplies.

Carbon reduction champion Jessica Thimbleby developed the 'Keeping Warm This Winter' programme which helped more than 360 Wiltshire residents last year.

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Jessica's campaign has been recognised by Community Energy England with a nomination for its national Fuel Poverty Action award and attracted the attention of local MP and Secretary of State, Michelle Donelan.

She now hosts pop-up 'cafes' in foodbanks including Durrington, Amesbury, St Paul's and Wilton.

Salisbury Journal: Wilton Community Centre hosts a foodbank every Friday.Wilton Community Centre hosts a foodbank every Friday. (Image: Salisbury Journal)

Jessica is also able to make referrals to the Warm and Safe Wiltshire service for further support, signposting those who may be eligible for emergency help or grants to allow them to install longer-term energy efficiency measures, including insulation or a more efficient boiler.

She said: "The feedback from the groups we partnered with and the residents who attended the sessions we ran last winter was overwhelmingly positive - it’s clear that the cafes really helped people who were struggling with spiralling energy bills.

"Sadly, the landscape had not improved going into winter 2023 and we’re seeing worrying statistics around the number of people in arrears.

"The conversations I’ve had certainly suggest that Wiltshire residents are worried, but I’m heartened by the fact that WWCE is playing a small part in helping them to cut costs and reduce their emissions in the process.”

Salisbury Journal: Jessica Thimbleby.Jessica Thimbleby. (Image: Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy)

Julian Barlow, chair of WWCE, said one of the organisation's core objectives is to deliver local benefits, adding: "I am really pleased about the return of our free-to-access energy advice service.

"As well as being Chair of WWCE I am also Parish Councillor of a small Wiltshire village, so I know how challenging last winter was for local people and how concerned many were about the prospect of another difficult season.

"It’s a shame that this kind of scheme is necessary, but I’m incredibly grateful that WWCE is in a position to help those in need.”

Further to the Keeping Warm This Winter service, WWCE has once again teamed up with the Rural Communities Energy Support Network, run by the Centre for Sustainable Energy with Wessex Community Action to enable it to reach more people across Wiltshire.