Worried this winter?

Worried this winter?

8th January 2024

'Worried this winter?' - Anatomy of a campaign

by Barbara Adams, CAS Senior Campaigns Officer.

This article was first published in the Herald on 6 January 2024.

A few weeks ago, we used this column to launch our winter campaign on energy bills support. As the person who is co-ordinating that campaign, I thought I’d give an update and also let you have a peek behind the curtain of how a national charity runs a campaign like this.

So first of all, why a campaign at all, and why energy bills? CAS is funded not just to deliver advice but also to raise awareness of issues that we see in our case-work. Energy bills is one of the top issues that people bring to the CAB, so combined with increased living costs and the lack of an energy support scheme from the UK Government this year, it seemed an obvious choice for our winter campaign.

This decision was taken after consultation with our 59 CABs across Scotland. We work closely with them to co-design our campaigns, ensuring that what we’re proposing resonates with the experience and needs of real CAB clients. As part of this, a number of CABs ran focus groups in their local area to hear how people are experiencing rising energy costs.

One thing that kept coming up in these meetings was the anxiety associated with increased energy costs. People spoke about self-rationing heat, sitting in the dark and going to bed early to attempt to stay warm. But being worried about bills and worried about keeping loved ones warm, kept recurring. Hence the eventual decision to call the campaign, ‘Worried This Winter?’

In terms of messaging, we settled on two key points. Firstly: if you’re worried this winter about your energy bills, there’s nothing unusual with that. You’re not alone. Indeed, if you’re facing exorbitant bills with a static income, it’s natural to be worried.

And secondly, help is available. You can access free support online through our public advice website and use inter-active tools like our MoneyMap to help make the most of your money. Or you can access our advice in person at your local CAB. Our advisers can check to see if you’re entitled to any benefits you’re not claiming (it’s amazing how often this is the case) and can help you negotiate with your energy supplier to work out a payment plan that suits you. CABs do this for people like you every day, and their help is free, confidential and impartial.  

Having set the messages, we prepared the campaign assets, focusing on three case studies to be reflected in our materials. We shot a video, built a webpage, recorded adverts for radio stations, and planned a social media schedule. We’ve also given funding to CABs across Scotland to push the message in their own local areas.

And this is where you come in. Yes you.

Some people will see and hear our campaign directly. Others will need to be told about it. So, tell people. Seriously, I’m hereby recruiting you to be part of our campaign. You have the key messages now: that it’s OK to be worried about energy bills and that the CAB network can help. Go out and talk about them. At work, in the pub, over the garden hedge. You could make a huge difference to the life of someone you know. www.cas.org.uk/worried.