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Action for Refugees in Lewisham (AFRIL) has helped local people secure £955,085 of additional benefits they were entitled to claim to help lift them out of fuel poverty.

The registered charity was provided with funding of £26,619 by the ScottishPower Energy People Trust for its Energy Efficiency Support project to employ an advice worker to help people having difficulty managing their fuel bills and debts.
The successful two year project specifically addressed fuel poverty among refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants and worked to relieve poverty through encouraging access to legal and social rights and entitlements.
During the course of the Energy Efficient Support project, AFRIL was able to provide 798 office appointments and 254 home and outreach visits to help lift people out of fuel poverty, when more than 10% of their income was spent on energy bills.  Three hundred and three people from 49 different nationalities were able to accesses help resulting in 498 applications for additional welfare benefits, grants and asylum support to help maximise incomes thus directly reducing their fuel poverty.

With the help of funding AFRIL was able to run ten energy efficiency events, providing information, advice and encouragement around reducing fuel consumptionin the home.  Events included a workshop on understanding utility bills and reducing energy use, educational games around energy consumption, English classes focussing on energy vocabulary, a pledge day and follow-up event where people agreed to reduce energy consumption and then six months later were asked to confrim the savings they had made, two switch events where clients could drop in for advice on more affordable fuel and an eco-celebration day.

Ann Loughrey, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at ScottishPower and The ScottishPower Energy People Trust Company Secretary, said:

“Funding provided by the ScottishPower Energy People Trust to Action for Refugees in Lewisham has made a great difference to local people. The project is clearly working to help people in the community and it is an encouraging outcome for an organisation to be given £26,619, and turn that into a £955,085 benefit for people requiring assistance.

“AFRIL has effectively turned every £1 the Trust donated to them into a benefit of £35 for vulnerable refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants in the Lewisham area.  The project should be very proud of the excellent work it is carrying out.

“Increases in household budgets as a result of AFRIL’s advice services have helped relieve the stresses of fuel poverty and contribute to a better standard of living for those who have been helped.”

Iolanda Chirico, Manager at Action for Refugees in Lewisham, said:

“We would like to thank ScottishPower Energy People Trust for its support and funding.  It has enabled us to work with nearly 800 people and help them find extra income from unclaimed benefits to lift them out of fuel poverty.  Funding has also helped people to apply for grant aided fuel efficiency measures and encouraged behavioural changes to help people control their energy use. 

“Many people were unaware of the extra assistance that was available to them. The funding has enabled us to provide detailed advice and spend time with them to help complete claims for additional assistance. 

“Over the last six months we have had increasing numbers of new clients and referrals from social services, health professionals and other voluntary services.  As such we hope to build on the successes of the Energy Efficient Support project to continue to help our clients in the future.”

Established in November 2005, the ScottishPower Energy People Trust provides vital funding for registered charities that help vulnerable people including families, young people, the disabled and the elderly, who need to spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills.

To date, the Trust has awarded more than £10 million to 220 projects helping 1,575,250 people in 1,316,071 households throughout Britain.

AFRIL works to relieve poverty and isolation among local refugees and asylum seekers, advance their education and educate the general public of their rights and needs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012