by James Kerry
Everybody – we hope – knows about the Energy Saving Trust Advice centres, and knows to call 0800 512 012 for energy-saving advice. But unless you’ve met one of us, you may not know so much about the Energy Saving Trust outreach advisors.
As an outreach advisor, I am charged with the task of engaging with the public in as high volumes as possible. So I spend my days attending events, ranging from large national shows and festivals to small libraries and churches -essentially, anywhere people may be found.
As I’m the point of contact between the public and the Energy Saving Trust, meeting as many different people as possible is a key aspect of my job. It is easy to quote clichés about how great it is to meet people; but if variety is the spice of life, mine is definitely a madras! I could start my week in north Wales teaching an Assembly Member about energy-efficient driving, and then spend the middle of the week singing church hymns and recalling the Lords Prayer in mid-Wales, before being verbally abused in Swansea for offering free shower timers. (These are all true stories.)
Dealing with this assortment of people presents an assortment of challenges. This was never truer than on my third day in work, when I was sent on my first outreach assignment. I had to go to the National Eisteddfod – the traditional festival that celebrates Welsh culture. Armed only with my beginner’s knowledge of energy efficiency and a ‘posh English accent’, I had to engage a largely Welsh-speaking audience about energy efficiency. It was certainly a sink or swim affair. Fortunately, with immense support from my co-workers, this assignment was deemed a success! I also picked up some vital Welsh phrases which I am sure will stay with me forever.
I would love to be able to proclaim myself as some kind of energy-saving oracle. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. With so many aspects and variables, and changing technology, it is impossible for any individual to know everything about energy efficiency – and I certainly don’t. There will always be the slightly awkward moment when I get asked a query on the road and I have no idea how to answer. I see this as an opportunity, though; I can go back to the office, ascertain the information, help the consumer and further my own knowledge.
So, if you live in Wales, keep your eyes peeled for the boys in light blue. If you see us among the books in your local library, sheltering from the rain on your high street or in the foyer of your hospital, come and talk to us; we would love to hear what you have to say. And if we don’t know the answer to your question, we’ll find it!