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ASSIST - Support Network for Household Energy Saving

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ASSIST (ASSIST - Support Network for Household Energy Saving)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2018-10-31

ASSIST is a 36-month European market activation and policy orientation project that seeks to tackle energy poverty and support vulnerable consumers. Based on the conclusion of the Energy Citizens’ Forum and of the European Vulnerable Consumers Working Group, the project intends to combine activities addressing both energy and social dimensions as energy poverty is not only an energy issue nor can it be tackled in isolation of the bigger issue of poverty. More specifically, ASSIST strategic objectives are to contribute to:
• tackle energy poverty;
• reduce the main barriers of the energy market faced by vulnerable consumers;
• support vulnerable consumers to be more efficient with their domestic energy consumption (electricity and gas).

ASSIST aims to actively engage consumers in the energy market and positively change behaviour in relation to energy consumption as well as influence energy poverty policy, specifically its specific objectives are to:
• Broaden understanding on European energy poverty incidence and how energy support services are effectively tackling the issue, identify best practice and needs but also provide a baseline against which the activity can be compared to demonstrate its effectiveness and to inform work towards policy orientation,
• Build political awareness and consensus on the phenomena by addressing and engaging all actors directly and indirectly affected by energy poverty and drafting together strategies and roadmaps to tackle it in a coordinated and homogeneous manner,
• Create an European network and build this by ensuring quality knowledge and skills of the Home Energy Advisors (HEA) with a supportive infrastructure for professional development and experiencing sharing. The HEA will be in positions of direct contact with the target group in order to help mainstream energy services and, increase access and uptake for the fuel poor,
• Build and collect tools to address and engage vulnerable consumers and nudge them to be more effective with their domestic energy consumptions,
• Design target actions to be implemented on the field by the trained HEAs to provide support to consumuers in need.
To fulfil its goals, ASSIST foresees diversified and correlated research, networking and in-field actions, consistent with the relevant national and European scenarios.
The activities in the first 18 months of the project have involved all work packages. In detail the consortium has:
- carried out an in-depth analysis and delivered reports illustrating the complete picture of how energy poverty is dealt within Europe and what initiatives have been implemented;
- defined the HEA qualification scheme describing the profile of the Household Energy Advisor (HEA) and its knowledge, competencies and skills;
- structured the ASSIST HEA training course and, in each country, according to the country context and the ASSIST strategy, adapted and built the training course, identified the participants and started the delivery of the training;
- defined the National and European HEA network frames and the ICT working environment;
- defined the methodology to be adopted within the project to monitor the impact of the action - in terms of minimum common data to be collected, tools for its collection and data analysis process.
- have defined the action(s) to be implemented in each country by the trained HEAs and have designed the tools and resources to implement and monitor the actions;
- prepared the tools to facilitate the communication with consumers and are discussing the ways to build a community of consumers in order to facilitate the sharing of experience and other issues amongst consumers;
- implemented or taken part in numerous activities at National and European level to increase the awareness of actors coming from different sectors and promoted the dialogue between these actors. In each country and at European level a Steering Committee has been formed by 10 experts which has met at least once to discuss the project and to provide inputs on its implementation;
- carried out numerous activities to widely disseminate the project and carried out also online communication through: a website (www.assist2gether.eu) a project twitter (@assist2gether) and facebook (@assist2gether) accounts. Communication material has been designed and translated in each language.

Some of the results achieved have a high level of exploitability and will be used throughout the project lifetime and also afterwards, specifically:
- online database with the existing financial measures - an added value tool for the trained HEAs to support vulnerable consumers;
- analysis of European projects and national initiatives - a tool for stakeholders to know what has been done in Europe and what the impact achieved
- training platform and the training course built for the training of the HEAs as well as the working ICT environment for the HEAs and all the tools and resources defined for the action.
The project is now at its turning point, during the coming 18 months activities will focus on:
1. Structuring and consolidating the National and European HEAs network - partners will keep open the ASSIST – HEA training opportunity on the ASSIST training platform in order to increase the number of trained HEAs as members of the National networks.
2. Implementing the ASSIST actions on behalf of the HEAs -through the trained HEAs in order to provide concrete support to consumers in need (vulnerable or in energy poverty) and collect data to verify the goodness of the suggested ASSIST model.
3. Integrating the tools and resources to facilitate the dialogue between HEAs and consumers - at each national level, the partners will decide how to enrich also the tools and resources for the members of the HEAs networks (available through the ICT working environment of the network itself) and will keep updating and improving the working area. Each National team will also discuss and decide the follow-up of the training and networking activities after the end of the project. Partners will seek funds and ways to keep open the ASSIST – HEA training opportunity and the HEA network with all the relative ICT infrastructure and tools.
4. Building and consolidating the consumers community - in order to facilitate the contact between HEAs and the target of vulnerable consumers, the consortia intends to build a consumers community which will act as a bridge between the network of HEAs and consumers.
5. Promoting dialogue between different actors and designing and drafting policy framework paper to support the building of national and European policies to tackle energy poverty - in each country, partners will organise events and meetings with actors coming from different sectors and members of the steering committees to illustrate the progress of the project and collect suggestions and inputs in order to design a policy framework paper with suggestions on policies on how to tackle energy poverty. At the end of the project the “Vulnerable Consumers Protection Framework Paper” will be published containing all the project evidences and suggestions.
6. Carrying out dissemination and communication activities at National and European level - the consortia will implement dissemination activities at all levels in order to widely spread and disseminate the progress and results of ASSIST and increase its impact. A final European conference is foreseen at the end of the project.
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