A REPRESENTATIVE from one of the Big Six energy providers will meet MSP Christina McKelvie next week following her call for the country’s biggest power companies to help tackle fuel poverty.

She wrote to the companies following the success of a pilot in her constituency, where ScottishPower had been offering credit vouchers for customers of the Hamilton District Food Bank.

Matthew Cole, head of home and business policy and social energy for Npower, will meet McKelvie after he addresses a Scottish Government Consumer Energy Summit in Edinburgh.

His company launched the Npower Fuel Bank in 2015 in conjunction with Trussell Trust food banks across the country – including Glenrothes, Glasgow and Inverclyde.

So far, it has helped more than 100,000 people, only three per cent of whom are customers of the firm.

Late last year they launched the Npower Foundation, whose mission is to “develop sustainable solutions to address fuel crisis, through innovative investments, partnerships and research”.

It has also partnered with Macmillan to offer support to customers living with cancer.

Cole told The National that Wednesday’s summit would give other energy firms the chance to see how the Npower programmes were working.

“It’ll be good to show where we’ve got to so far with things, but also what other opportunities there are for other energy companies to maybe join in,” he said.

“There’s a real opportunity for other energy companies to do that, if they wanted to, and that’s one of the reasons we set up the Npower Foundation, which allows other firms – be they from the energy sector, commercial organisations, charities, or local authorities – to donate and allow us to establish more fuel banks across the UK, because we want to have more.

“We’ve had lots of interest from other charities, and other larger organisations have come to talk about how we maybe can work together and combine what we’re trying to do with what they’re trying to do.

“It shows there’s a real, genuine appreciation of the service we’re trying to provide and also there’s a real willingness for people who want to jump in and join us.”

Cole said that for many years it has been the case that when times are hard people tend to “self-disconnect” when there’s no money and their meter goes off.

“Citizen Advice have been talking for donkey’s years about the million people a year who self-disconnect and what we’ve tried to do is bring that to life for people – what does that mean and how would they manage in that situation.

“It’s really easy for people to say ‘I know what it’s like to be cold’, but I don’t think most people would know what it’s like to not have any energy in their home, because I think few people are in that situation.”

He said the Fuel Bank scheme had started from a small base but quickly rolled out to more than a dozen locations across the UK.

Npower’s facility in Glasgow was launched last May in conjunction with the Glasgow SE Food Bank.

“The key thing is that if folk are hungry and they’re having to go to a food bank they are destitute and probably don’t have money to pay for electricity and gas as well,” added Cole.

“And we though if people are using food banks let’s try to support them.

The key thing is we don’t really care who their energy supplier is because we felt it was wrong to say ‘we want to help you in these difficult times but we can’t because you’re with another company’.

“We don’t really care who their energy supplier is.”