A Day of Action for warm homes and lower energy bills

On Saturday 18 November 2023, the Friends of the Earth network, community groups and local partners took part in a nationwide Day of Action, calling for lower energy bills and warm homes for all. Here’s how it went.
  Published:  21 Nov 2023    |      4 minute read

Our energy system is broken. People across the UK are paying sky-high bills and feeling the brunt of living in heat-leaking homes.

UK homes rank among Western Europe's worst insulated. Heating them leads to warmth escaping through walls, ceilings and floors, causing higher bills, wasted energy and unnecessary emissions. Years of government neglect on home insulation has left us particularly vulnerable.

This is why it's vital that we pressure our politicians to take action. Throughout the nation, groups came together on the United for Warm Homes Day of Action, calling for both lower energy bills and warm homes for everyone.

Building a movement for warm homes

Over 50 groups, including many Friends of the Earth local action groups, partnered up for a Day of Action on Saturday 18 November 2023. This included national partners like Fuel Poverty Action and Warm Welcome, and local partners such as faith groups, food banks and schools. Communities came together with one common goal: warm homes for all.

In Leicester, organisations working alongside diverse communities such as young people, women, and people from different races and religions, as well as those supporting workers’ rights, got behind the Day of Action. One of these organisations, Labour Behind the Label, a group that supports garment workers' rights worldwide, highlighted how “garment workers in Leicester are dealing with a crisis which forces them into fuel poverty” and reminded us that “we need justice for workers and the climate”.

A massive group of people looking joyful holding up their creative quilts. They're outside
Leicester Day of Action event.
Credit: J Nandha Photography

Barnet Friends of the Earth brought its warm homes message to the Eco Show and Tell Sustainability Fair at Middlesex University. Held during National Interfaith Week, the event provided a perfect platform to connect with multifaith communities. With a strong turnout, the group effectively showcased its initiatives for warm homes, gathering signatures of support for its cause.

A group of 5 people proudly holding up a quilt in front of a stall with multiple squares reflecting their support for warm homes for all - including images of renewable energy sources. In the middle the quilt reads "Barnet united for warm homes".
Barnet Friends of the Earth at Eco Show and Tell Sustainability Fair at Middlesex University.
Credit: Barnet Friends of the Earth

While it wasn’t surprising, it was still devastating to witness the profound impact of inadequate homes and the energy crisis on numerous communities. It was uplifting to witness the widespread support from various organisations and partners who share our common goal for warm homes.

If you want to work on something that affects every different community across the country, then it’s really important to have people representing those different communities.

Climate Action Leicester and Leicestershire

Winning support from people in power

For change to happen we need support from people in power. Groups made it a priority to demand warm homes from their MPs and demonstrated their strong community backing.

Thousands of people from all over the nation have been signing petitions demanding warm homes. During the Day of Action, numerous groups handed in their petitions to their MPs and called on them to back warm homes for all. Among them was Manchester Friends of the Earth, who alongside Fuel Poverty Action handed in its petition with over 1,100 signatures to Labour MP and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner.

A group of people of various ages, including children, outside their MPs office with placards demanding warm homes and lower energy bills
Outside MP Angela Rayner's office.
Credit: Manchester Friends of the Earth

Climate Cymru went to the UK government offices in Cardiff to demand the government hears its calls for warmer homes powered by cheap, green energy. The group brought along human-shaped black silhouette cut-outs to represent the 300 people who died in cold homes in Wales last year.

A group of people outside a government building holding black silhouette figures and placards demanding warm homes
Climate Cymru outside UK government offices in Cardiff.
Credit: Climate Cymru

As well as targeting MPs and politicians, groups made sure their voices were heard in the media. Luton Friends of the Earth gained press coverage promoting its Day of Action event. Janet Brown at Luton for Warm Homes said: “It’s not right that so many people across Luton must endure another difficult winter because of these failings… we must see the rapid roll out of a street-by-street insulation programme in Luton prioritising the areas that need it most – we hope that Rachel Hopkins MP will back these vital measures.”

Groups were able to win support from MPs, including Afzal Khan, the MP for Manchester, Gorton, who said: “I support calls for a Warm Home Plan to upgrade 19 million homes to be more energy efficient… Fuel poverty is an issue of dignity. Households deserve to eat and feel warm this winter and every winter.”

Creative tactics for warm homes and lower energy bills

In the run-up to the Day of Action, groups crafted eye-catching community quilts to gain their MPs’ attention. Each quilt showed diverse and heartfelt support for the campaign, decorated by local people, showing why they want warm homes that don’t cost the earth. On the Day of Action, groups presented their quilts to their MPs, alongside their petitions.

Members of Camden Friends of the Earth proudly holding up their large hand-made quilt with patches related to their communities like homes, trees and hearts.
Camden Friends of the Earth's quilt for the Day of Action.
Credit: Karis Beaumont

By taking a creative approach, groups were able to transcend traditional approaches to campaigning and appeal to new people with an interest in crafts. Kathy from Ilford said: “I have always been an artist, but I have never worked with community groups before… I have realised that sewing projects are a great way to draw a diverse group of people into a campaign.” The activity also allowed groups to slow down, be in the moment and work together to win support.

A group of people outside holding up their handmade quilt which reads "warm homes for all" alongside other placards demanding warm homes.
Ilford Friends of the Earth with its quilt.
Credit: Ilford Friends of the Earth

New Forest Friends of the Earth held an event to present its quilt which was well attended. Among the attendees were 2 local Conservative MPs, Sir Desmond Swayne and Sir Julian Lewis, as well as several councillors, and prospective parliamentary candidates and the mayor. The quilt was a labour of love, crafted by people aged 3-94, including contributions from a local care home resident. In creating attention-grabbing quilts, groups were able to leave a lasting impression on MPs.

A close up of a woman's hand sewing detail onto a patch
Sewing quilt squares together.
Credit: Karis Beaumont

The activity also inspired other textile-based craftivism to serve communities. Some groups collected coats for people in need, as well as making practical items like DIY draught excluders and scarves.

A nationwide movement for lasting change

The Day of Action was a roaring success thanks to a nationwide effort fuelled by the Friends of the Earth network, community groups and partners. Over the last couple of years, groups have united for warm homes, taking part in hundreds of events, activities and actions.

Highlights include hosting an energy fair in Wetherby, staging an attention-grabbing visual stunt at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, conducting thermal surveys of homes in Cardiff, and securing front-page campaign coverage addressing the home heating crisis in Harborough.

Central to this effort was building community connections and boosting local awareness and support for warm homes. This groundwork allowed groups nationwide to build up to a powerful Day of Action, backed by their communities, to pressure decision makers to take action.

Inspired? Find out more about the energy crisis and ways to get involved.