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Live talk available at the below date and time. The Electrical Industries Charity presents a wellbeing series of inspirational speakers and leading experts in mental health, law, and reliance. The series is uplifting and educational on a range of issues impacting our industry. Format of the series will be a 50-minute virtual presentation followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers facilitated by the Charity CEO, Tessa Ogle.

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Since retiring from the forces, Colin MacLachlan has provided high-level security to the likes of the Saudi Royal Family, was named a Sunday Times Bestseller, and found recent fame on the hit show, SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Colin’s talk will focus on his service experience, as well as his expertise in leadership, teamwork, risk management and more. He specialises in mental resilience and emotional health. You will come away empowered, armed with a toolbox of skills for overcoming adversity in both their professional and personal lives.

During his time in the military, he participated in an exchange programme with Delta Force and Seal Team 6, and while being held hostage, was filmed for terrorist propaganda - Colin has shown consistent courage in the face of danger. Most recently, he appeared on the Channel 4 show SAS: Who Dares Wins, to put his 25 years of military experience to the test. The Sunday Times Bestseller has also retold his story through popular books, including 'The Pilgrim' and 'SAS: Who Dares Wins: Leadership Secrets from the Special Forces'.

Colin was formerly a Sergeant Major in the 1st Battalion of The Royal Scots and a Special Forces Commander in the 22 SAS regiment. First joining the army in 1989, he put himself through gruelling training and passed selection into 22 SAS when he was just 23 years old. Since leaving the forces, Colin has continued his journey of protecting civilians - becoming the owner of Blade, his own security company. With his lifelong commitment to safety, he can discuss change and risk management when booked for events.

Upon joining the armed forces, Colin was the first sniper on the scene of a hijacked plane with 180 people on board, and hunted down guerrilla gang, The West Side Boys, who were holding British soldiers hostage in a mission titled ‘Operation Certain Death’. Such experiences make Colin an insightful addition to corporate events, as he can translate the lessons he learnt to a working environment, including tactics for strong mental resilience.

Other prominent roles of Colin’s include being a Security Consultant for Pilgrims Group, a Project Manager for Edinburgh Cyrenians, ALTOR Risk Group and the Stirling Group. He has also been the Principal Security Advisor for SCC Global, a motion capture artist for Rockstar North and a Private Wealth Management Analyst for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Outside of work, Colin is a passionate Ambassador for the Lee Rigby Foundation, NSPCC and Pilgrim Bandits.

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January 2022

While we have enjoyed the warmth of the festive period surrounded by family and friends as we come into January and the colder winter months a lot of our minds are turning to paying the fuel bills over the coming months. With energy price hikes and more of us working from home than ever before it is more than likely we will all feel the pinch of our energy bills. This January the EIC want to help our industry colleagues stay warm this winter. The average annual cost of heating and hot water in the UK is £776 per year and if you use gas heating it is roughly £550 yearly. This can be a huge expense and with the soaring gas prices this is only likely to increase this year. The cost of keeping warm can be enormous and if you are in financial difficulty or vulnerable the thought of fuelling your home can be daunting.

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The definition of fuel poverty states that a household is said to be in fuel poverty if:

They have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level), and were they to spend that amount they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

The key factors that can contribute to fuel poverty are:

  • The energy efficiency of the property (and therefore, the energy required to heat and power the home)
  • The cost of energy
  • Household income.

The number of households experiencing fuel poverty is rising at the moment for several reasons:

  • The cost of energy keeps increasing, which means we need to spend more of our income on paying these bills
  • Many of us live in draughty homes, from which lots of heat escapes, and rely on heating systems that are old and inefficient. And because we do not have much money to spare, it is difficult to make our homes more energy efficient, which would reduce our bills
  • The general cost of living is rising, and this is also putting pressure on our finances so we have less money to go around.

The figure for England show that in 2017, the number of households in fuel poverty was estimated at 2.53 million, representing approximately 10.9% of all English households. Since, it is estimated 13% of households in England are fuel poor while 25% in Scotland, 12% in Wales and 18% in Northern Ireland are also living in fuel poverty. There is significant regional variation; within England, the most affected areas are the North East, North West, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and Humberside, whilst the least affected are London, the Home Counties and Eastern England, generally tracking regional income levels.

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Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. This includes:

  • people aged 65 and older
  • babies and children under the age of 5
  • people on a low income (so cannot afford heating)
  • people who have a long-term health condition
  • people with a disability
  • pregnant women
  • people who have a mental health condition

In 2020/21 the Electrical Industries Charity have supported thousands of sector colleagues who fall into these categories. Often those who are most vulnerable have the least disposable income meaning price hikes and unexpected energy bills can really hit hard.

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The connection between fuel poverty and health is based upon the impact of living in cold, damp homes. Those who are fuel poor are more likely to turn their heating down below the level adequate for their wellbeing and are more likely to live in energy inefficient homes, which are poorly insulated and prone to dampness.

Fuel poverty, through living in a cold and damp home, is a clear contributory factor in health issues such as respiratory diseases, heart diseases, circulatory diseases, and mental health problems. It also contributes towards increased winter deaths, repeat visits to GPs and admissions to hospitals.

Mental health issues increase by 50% in cases where people are living in a home under the desired temperature of 21 degrees.
The risk of experiencing severe ill health or disability during childhood and early adulthood is increased by 25% if an individual lives in poor quality housing.

Follow these tips to keep you and your family warm and well at home:

  • If you're not very mobile, are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease, heat your home to at least 18C
  • Keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and keep bedroom window closed
  • If you're under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18C, as long as you're comfortable
  • Use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed – but do not use both at the same time
  • Have at least 1 hot meal a day – eating regularly helps keep you warm
  • Have hot drinks regularly
  • To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), babies should sleep in rooms heated to between 16C and 20C
  • Draw curtains at dusk and keep doors closed to block out draughts
  • Get your heating system checked regularly by a qualified professional

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If you live in England, Scotland or Wales, there are lots of different companies supplying energy so you can choose to buy your gas and electricity from those that offer you the best deal. The Citizens Advice website has information about energy

  • The way you pay for your gas and electricity also has an impact the amount it costs
  • Buying both gas and electricity from the same supplier can cost less
  • Paying by monthly direct debit rather than quarterly bill usually saves you money
  • Some suppliers offer benefits such as money off future bills for switching to paperless bills
  • Gas and electricity can be more expensive if you use a pre-payment meter
  • Some energy companies offer you the chance to fix your energy prices over a certain period of time. This means your bills will not go up if the price of electricity or gas goes up – but remember that they will still go up if you use more energy.

Understand your statement and read your meters

A better understanding of the information provided on your statement could help you identify and solve problems at an early stage. The Citizens Advice website has a helpful online tool: Understanding your energy bill, which explains how and where to find the most useful information on the statements of each of the 'Big Six' energy suppliers. (NB: Make sure you look at the information on the website for the country of the UK.) Bills are often estimated, so reading your meter and passing the reading on to your supplier will make sure you only pay for what you have used. The Citizens Advice website has information on how to read your energy meter (NB: Make sure you look at the information on the website for the country of the UK you live in by selecting it from the drop down box on the page).

Take steps to cut your energy use

You only pay for the electricity and gas that you actually use, so a good way for us to cope with rising prices is to try to use energy efficiently:
1. Cut your bills by turning the thermostat on your heating down by one degree and heating your home for one less hour a day.
2. Stop heat escaping by sealing skirting boards, using draft excluders in front of doors and letterboxes and drawing your curtains after dark. Double-glazing reduces the heat loss through windows by 50%
3. Save electricity by turning appliances off rather than leaving them on standby, unplug chargers and switch lights off when not in use
4. Do not over fill kettles and always put lids on saucepans when cooking
5. Only run washing machines, driers and dishwashers with a full load and use lower temperature settings. Driers use lots of electricity, so drying washing on a line will help cut bills
6. Switch to low energy light bulbs. They cost a bit more but last 12 times longer and help cut your electricity bills
7. Insulating your loft and cavity walls, installing an energy efficient boiler and switching to low energy appliances will all help cut costs.

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As we come into January, with the warmth of the festive season behind us and the coldest winter months ahead, our minds are no doubt turning to our fuel bills. With more of us working from home, and energy price hikes across the board, it’s likely we’ll all be feeling the pinch over the coming months. This winter, the EIC wants to help our industry colleagues stay warm.

25.9% of people now work from home with electricity consumption in the UK rising by around £70 a month on average. It’s estimated that already 13% of households are living in fuel poverty in England with 25% in Scotland, 12% in Wales and 18% in Northern Ireland. Add skyrocketing energy prices from suppliers and the cost of staying warm can be daunting, especially to those vulnerable or already in financial difficulty. This was especially true for James, who lived with his mum Kathy and was in the first year of his apprenticeship. Recovering from debilitating chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, Kathy was a single parent with little financial resource. As a result of her illness and treatment, she’d taken early retirement and received only a small pension. The next five years were crucial to her health outcome.

rising energy costs

James was carer to his mum and the main breadwinner in the house. His salary paid household bills and the cost of his apprenticeship equipment. To help with rent and expenses, he worked a night job, but was exhausted. His mental health was deteriorating from lack of sleep and the potential of failing at his apprenticeship. Trying to hold it together for his mum caused James deep anxiety. Around this time, James contacted the EIC for mental health support. He engaged with his therapist well, and after twelve CBT sessions, he felt better able to cope with supporting his mum. The EIC helped him to apply for the first Apprenticeship Bursary, and he was granted emergency financial support for the broken boiler at home. Having a long-term health condition, Kathy was particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. Other vulnerable groups include people over the age of 65, children under 5, pregnant women, and those with disabilities and mental health conditions.

Can You Help Someone Stay Warm this Winter?

The Apprenticeship Bursary programme is for instances just like James’s. We want our young apprentices to get the support they need when they need it. The help James accessed was due to the EIC and the powerLottery. Through us, James got the financial and medical support required to keep his mum warm and get back on his feet. Without powerLottery, EIC wouldn’t be able to support people like James. That’s why we need you to become a powerLottery player – to help EIC continue supporting our industry members.

powerLottery is the only lottery made for our industry by our industry. It gives players 40 chances to win cash prizes ranging from £50 to £1,000 every single month. A £10,000 draw bi-yearly gives you even more opportunity to win BIG. A new car, a holiday in the sun, a kitchen re-fit or a brand-new wardrobe… Think of all the different ways you could spend £10,000.

To sign up to play the powerLottery, click here:

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25.9% of people now work from home and 46.4% of those who normally be employed in London have worked from home at some point over 2020/21 period. While working from home may mean you are saving on commuting expenses whether that be petrol, train services or bus it is likely your energy bills have increased. In the UK electricity consumption has risen by 15%. A survey of 2000 people who worked from home saw their energy bills rise by £70 a month on average. Couple this increase with already skyrocketing energy costs working from home can prove to be expensive.

If you began to work from home due to the pandemic you can claim some tax relief here:

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Do you want to cut your home’s carbon footprint, what are your options?

Starting with insulation is the best bet. You can pay about £50 for an energy performance assessor to identify the insulation options suitable for your home (the government has a list of accredited assessors ). And Energy Savings Trust  produces independent advice on your options.
I’ve done a lot of insulation on my house. Good quality windows and doors have made a big difference. But with solid walls (i.e, those that don’t contain cavity walls) heat still pours out. The house is small, and I didn’t want to lose any more space through internal wall insulation. Living mid-terrace made external-wall insulation impractical. So, I resorted to 1 cm-thick thermal wallpaper which certainly made a difference to our comfort levels. This is an area currently attracting a lot of innovative solutions, such as insulating paints and high-tech plaster.
When it comes to paying for insulation, the government obliges energy companies to help householders fit insulation under a scheme called the Energy Company Obligation. Money for this has been cut in recent years and the programme is now targeted at low income and vulnerable households, but there are still government-led grants available in Wales , Northern Ireland  and Scotland .
Pros: Insulation will cut energy bills, but big investments such as high-quality windows, doors, or external-wall insulation will take many years to pay back – decades in some cases. If you can afford it, the added comfort is worth it in my view.
Cons: Apart from the upfront cost, the biggest obstacle is disruption and mess. One way of minimising this for internal-wall insulation is to do it room by room when decorating.

Smart controls
Smart heating controls enable you to easily manage your heating. You can even do it from your phone or computer when you're away from home. Smart controls can automatically adjust the heating according to the weather and to whether or not you're at home.
A study on the NEST smart heating controller suggested a minimum saving of around 5% in gas consumption, even for homes that already have heating controls such as radiator valves and a programmer. You can also get individual room controls, which would save more energy.
These should all, in theory, pay for themselves within around 5 years, and the cost range is about £200-250.
Make sure you read up-to-date reviews  of different smart heating control options, as there's currently a lot of innovation in this area: it's a fast-moving and competitive market with new options emerging all the time.

Pros: Smart heating controls will pay back fast (within 5 years).
Cons: Can't think of any.

smart controls

Different heating options
There is a range of options for home heating and they all have pros and cons. Some are more suitable for some homes than others. Annoyingly the choice isn’t straightforward.

Heat pumps

A heat pump is basically the same as a fridge in reverse. Rather than making the inside colder and transferring the heat outside it does the opposite – it extracts heat from the environment outside the house and pumps it into the house. Roughly speaking, for every unit of electricity you use, it will provide 3 units of heat. It's therefore by far the most efficient form of heating there is.
Remarkably it does this even when it’s freezing outside – in fact, heat pumps are now the most fitted heating device in chilly Sweden.

There are 4 types of heat pump:

  • Hybrid heat pump:Works alongside your gas boiler. Smart controls pioneered by UK company PassivSystems enable you to maximise your carbon pollution savings (although currently their controls only work with a few brands). The controls do this by switching between the heat pump and gas boiler to use whichever is lowest carbon at the time. So, when electricity from the grid is low carbon the heat pump is used to provide your heat. When the electricity grid is being powered with lots of fossil fuels, the gas boiler will be cleaner and the controls switch to that. On really cold days the controls can use both simultaneously to keep your home nice and warm.
  • Air-source heat pump: Extracts heat from the air outside (even when it’s cold!) and uses it to heat the water in your radiators and in your hot water tank if you have one. The heat pump needs to be outside your property. It doesn’t make the water as hot as a gas-fired boiler, so to ensure your house is warm enough it runs for longer. You're also likely to need to increase the size of your radiators. The fan in the heat pump (which also needs to be outside the house) will make some noise, but no more than the background hum of a fridge. Of course the pump will be busiest during the winter months when you are less likely to be outside anyway. This is the option I plumped for.
  • Ground-source heat pump: extracts heat from the ground, so requires a garden for a trench. It is more expensive than an air-source heat pump, but also more efficient and quieter.
  • Air-air heat pump: blows warm air into your house rather than hot water. If you have multiple floors to heat you will need more than one of these.

heat pump

Costs of heat pumps
Heat pumps will give you an impressive 50-60% reduction in your greenhouse gas pollution footprint, and they shouldn’t increase your energy bill. In fact, if you live in an off-grid property currently powered by oil or LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and you switch to a heat pump, the greenhouse gas pollution saving will be greater because oil and LNG are particularly polluting fuels.

But they do come with an upfront cost, including installation. As a rule of thumb, a heat pump is expected to cost around £10,000 to buy and install, depending on what work may need to be done. The cost of my air-source heat pump was £11, 392.50, which included fitting a hot water tank for baths, showers etc.

A government grant is available to cover some of the cost, though not for air-air heat pumps. The amount of grant will vary by technology and how efficiently it will operate in your home but is likely to cover at least half the cost. Friends of the Earth has joined more than 20 organisations from construction, energy and civil society sectors in calling for government to pay the full cost for poorer households, among other measures. You need to use an accredited installer to get the grant – they’ll be able to give you an estimate once they've inspected your property.

Pros: Heat pumps are a very efficient way of providing heating, using roughly 1 unit of electricity to produce 3 units of heat; they are also eligible for a government grant.

Cons: Heat pumps do involve some disruption to your house, eg pipework, and some systems will need bigger radiators. You'll need to be happy with a heat pump outside your house making some noise, although it’s only about as loud as a fridge, and will be working hardest in winter when you are less likely to be outside.

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  1. Use tin foil. One way to prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators, particularly on those attached to external walls, is to use heat reflective aluminium foil behind the radiator. This prevents heat disappearing through the wall by reflecting it back into the room, says Sophie Neuburg, energy campaigner for charity Friends of the Earth. Foil specially designed for the purpose can be bought for under £10. "You can even use good quality kitchen foil," says Carl Brennand, assistant manager of website Moneymagpie, although it's generally not as effective.

  2. Thick curtains are one of the main ways to protect your house from losing heat through the windows. Curtains with a thermal lining are a relatively cheap option, says Brennand. "The thicker the better," adds Archna Luthra, consumer analyst at If you don't want to splash out on new curtains you can line them yourself with materials like cheap fleece, says Brennand. "You can even use PVC shower curtains," he suggests. And it's not just windows that can have curtains. Placing a curtain in front of doors to the outside adds another layer of protection. And it doesn't even need to be a curtain. "My gran used to have an old rug that she used to pin up over the back of the front door," says interior designer Claire Potter.

  3. But let the sunlight in during the day. It's important to try to use as much natural - and free - heat (in the form of sunlight) as possible. Window shades and curtains should be kept open during the day, advise Age UK. Closing your curtains as soon as dusk falls will maximise your house's potential to retain that heat.

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  4. Double glazing is heat-efficient but it's relatively costly. If you can't afford it, why not fake it? "There's a special film that you can put across [single-glazed] windows" that can imitate the same effect, albeit to a lesser degree, says Neuburg. You can attach the film to the window frame using double-sided tape and then fix it using a hairdryer, she says. There's a downside. You won't be able to open your windows without breaking the seal. But a pack to cover a medium-sized house would be about £15, estimates Potter, so it could just be redone from time to time. Potter, who has no heating system in her house, says one batch of film has lasted about two or three years as she has small windows. Alternatively, self-adhesive foam strips can help seal any gaps in the edges of windows. Metal or plastic strips with brushes or wipers attached cost a bit more but will last longer as a result, according to the Energy Saving Trust. These can also be used as draught excluders around the hinges and frames of doors.

  5. Stop heat being lost up the chimney. It's now fairly common to have fireplaces that are merely decorative. If you're not using yours then you should consider a chimney balloon, says Potter. "There's an amazing amount of heat that can be lost through an open fireplace," she says. A chimney balloon, made from a special laminate, can be bought for about £20 and works by being placed inside the chimney hole, just out of sight. It's then inflated until it completely shuts out any incoming cold air or escaping heat. Just be sure not to start a fire without removing it. There are also woollen chimney insulators on the market. But again, make sure you remove them before starting any fires.

  6. Watch out for mini-draughts. "Lots of draught comes through the letterbox," says Potter. It's worthwhile putting an extra barrier there in the form of a "brush". They may be a nightmare for junk-mailers trying to force through that 15th pizza takeaway offer, but they could prevent a chill breezing through the house. The same goes for keyholes, which can be protected with "simple circular (keyhole covers) that slip over the top", says Potter, especially with the older, wider keyholes. Cat or dog flaps can also be filled with some sheep's wool insulation or pieces of blanket. "It's amazing how even a small draught can make a room a lot colder, so if you can cut that bit of air out it immediately makes a difference," says Potter.

  7. DIY draught excluders are one lesson people can learn from previous generations. "Old-fashioned draught excluders work well," says Potter. "In the past it wasn't unusual to have a 'sausage dog'," says Potter. For the uninitiated, "sausage dog" draught excluders are vaguely reminiscent of the shape of a dachshund and typically rest at the bottom of doors, stopping heat escaping through the gap between door and floor. Anybody who's ever been smoking inside a room that they shouldn't will probably be aware that almost any material or piece of clothing can be used to wedge the space. And simple draught excluders can be made from cutting an old pair of tights and stuffing them with socks, says Luthra. But the more ambitious can go further. "If you really want to go all out you can decorate them," she says. The stuffing can be almost anything from rice and lentils to gravel, suggests the website Singerdiscount, which also provides a relatively simple guide.

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  8. Clear your radiators. Try and avoid placing large pieces of furniture in front of them. At least in the short-term, the sofa you love by the radiator is absorbing heat, says Neuburg.

  9. Putting a shelf above the radiator, especially if you have high ceilings, can also help channel the warmth, adds Neuburg. But it's important not to place things on the radiator itself, she says, "You can put a shelf above it to stop the hot air rising directly above it." This is particularly the case if the radiator is below a window with curtains, where warm air would be trapped between the window and the curtain.

  10. Shut up unused rooms, says Neuburg. Keeping doors closed will prevent cold air moving into the rest of the house and contain the heat you've generated in a smaller area.

  11. Cover bare floorboards. Floors account for as much as 10% of heat loss if they're not insulated, according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF). Carpets came into being for a reason, says Potter. Those with wooden flooring have to deal with heat loss. Rugs and blankets can help mitigate this and have the added bonus of keeping your feet warm. "Sometimes it's just the psychological element," says Potter. But if there are cracks or gaps in the flooring it's a good idea to squirt some filler into them, advises the NEF. "Floorboards and skirting boards can contract, expand or move slightly with everyday use, so you should use a filler that can tolerate movement," suggests the NEF. These are usually silicone-based.

  12. Insulating your whole house professionally can seem expensive to some. But DIY loft insulation is a possibility. Rolls of foam insulation are cheap, says Brennand, and three rolls of 8in deep foam should be enough to give most lofts an important layer of protection. Mineral wool (such as Rockwool or Rocksil), glass fibre and recycled paper products all work well, according to the NEF. But remember to wear a facemask, goggles and protective clothing if you do it yourself, and leave sufficient gaps around the eaves to avoid condensation, the NEF warns.


  13. Don't undo your work by having an inefficient loft hatch, says Potter. "Some people might have a lovely insulated loft but the loft hatch might be an old timber one that's not insulated," she says. Insulating it can be done with same self-adhesive strips as for window and doors. It's also worth checking that none of your roof tiles is loose or missing. "If you have loose tiles or a damaged roof then you're going to get water that can get into your loft and as soon as the insulation gets wet it loses its efficiency," she says. Although the difficulty of checking may be the biggest obstacle, if it's safe to do so then a single tile or so can be relatively cheap to replace.

  14. Setting timers on heating is important. "It's a myth that keeping it on all day is better," says Luthra. If it's very cold, the timer should be set to switch the heating on earlier, rather than turning the thermostat up to warm the house rapidly, according to Age UK.

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You may be able to claim financial and practical help with heating your home. Grants available include the Winter Fuel Payment and the Cold Weather Payment. For more information on how to reduce your bills and make your home more energy efficient, go to the government's Simple Energy Advice website, or call the Simple Energy Advice helpline on 0800 444 202.
You can also find out about heating and housing benefits on GOV.UK. It's worth claiming all the benefits you're entitled to as soon as winter begins.

This benefits calculator helps you to understand if you are entitled for additional support:

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One of the keys to a better version of you, mentally and physically, is sleeping well. We want all of our industry members to sleep as well as they can that’s why EIC have partnered with Sleepstation. Sleepstation is a clinically validated sleep improvement programme that can help you learn how to control and optimise your sleep to get the best sleep possible. Designed by experts and backed by science, the online service is proven to combat even the most severe insomnia. Their team will help you identify the underlying causes of your sleep problem and provide the personal support and guidance needed to improve your sleep. Sleepstation delivers remote care with a personal touch and that's what makes it so effective. Therapeutic support through Sleepstation is available to those in need and meeting our charity eligibility criteria.

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