‘Those struggling with poverty aren’t lazy layabouts’- Professor Green

Smart Energy share tips for reducing energy bills

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Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, 38, is best known as a rapper and multi-award-winning songwriter. In recent years he has poured his energy into helping people in need through his charity work and activism. Now, Stephen is working to help those struggling with the cost of living crisis.

As energy bills rise dramatically, British Gas and the Post Office are launching around 100 community pop-ups offering free, confidential energy advice in the areas of greatest need.  

Having lived through energy debt himself and spoken to some of the people in need, Stephen told Express.co.uk about some of the heartbreaking messages he has received from worried members of the public.

They include questions like: “What will happen if we physically can’t pay the bills?”

“What about the families that are just over the threshold for any help? It’s so scary it keeps me awake.”

“What will happen if we just don’t have enough money to pay our bills? I’m £2,000 in debt already with energy, I can’t see a way out.”

Discussing his experiences, Stephen said: “The scary thing right, I do a lot of work with food banks, and the idea of things like Benefit Street are awful. They don’t do anyone any favours, least of all the working class.  

“It creates this idea of an extreme of people which gives you the wrong idea of people who actually need access to these services.  

“The amount of people that have to access food banks who are in dual-income households, it is crazy.

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“These aren’t people who are lazy layabouts who don’t want to be able to go out and just buy their food.  

“They are people who are in a really desperate situation and simply can’t afford to cover everything.”

Having to struggle is something that Stephen knows all too well after growing up with his grandmother on a housing estate in Hackney.

He told me: “Growing up how I did, I saw a lot of stress around money, a lot. My nan worked three jobs a day, she was bringing up her grandson, she had already brought up three children single-handedly. She struggled.

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“There was a lot of stress in my household. I remember getting sent to the shop when I was old enough and it was always divvying up sometimes just coins between the gas and the electricity.

“I just think that if there was a service that my grandmother could have accessed that would have helped her to better manage money, it would have been a huge, huge, huge help. And it would have been welcomed.”

British Gas’ money and energy advice pop-ups will take place in various Post Office branches across the UK.

Those needing advice can talk to representatives from the British Gas Energy Trust who can provide guidance and support.

On why he is helping to raise awareness about the pop-ups, Stephen continued: “With debt comes shame, with shame comes feelings of worthlessness and isolation, you tend to shut yourself off from everyone, you don’t want to talk about things.  

“But these pop-ups give people a place to go and talk to a human – not a machine on a phone or a form on the internet – to talk to someone face-to-face and quite often it will be someone that they may already know in charities that already exist in the community.  

“People find it quite hard to trust people when there is help potentially at hand and I hope that this can hopefully do quite a lot to encourage people to access the help that is out there which is really, really important during these times.”

You can find out more about the pop-ups here.

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