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Charity Helps Families Take Action on Fuel Poverty

FAMILIES in the Lothians who have children with disabilities are looking forward to a cosier winter, thanks to a vital project run by a local charity.  

Voluntary organisation, The Action Group, received almost £100,000 from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust back in June 2008 to fund a project that aimed to pull vulnerable families in Edinburgh and the Lothians out of fuel poverty.

The charity provides a range of services for people with learning disabilities and support needs, as well as their carers.

Nearly 18 months on, the initiative - the Fuel Poverty Income Maximisation Project for Disabled Children – has been a huge success, generating almost £250,000 additional income for families at risk.

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

“According to Capability Scotland Research, over 40% of parents with disabled children have higher fuel bills, leading to greater levels of fuel poverty.

“We are delighted that The Action Group has helped provide vital savings for families affected by the issue, especially as we head into the colder months.

“The charity does a fantastic job of reaching out to those in need, offering them help and support to ensure they are able to live comfortably and in a warm home.”

A full time family advisor was recruited using the funding to work with families who have disabled children to provide advice on maximising their income through benefit entitlements. The advisor has also been ensuring that each family has access to energy efficiency advice.

When necessary, the advisor will make home visits to those who require assistance. Many of those in need are referred to The Action Group by other voluntary organisations, such as VOCAL (Voices of Carers across the Lothians), Downs Syndrome Society Scotland and the Lothian Councils. 

Jo Kirby, Advice Service Manager at The Action Group, said:

“There is evidence to suggest that the costs of raising a child with disabilities may be trebled, leaving many families facing poverty and social exclusion. Parents who have children with disabilities are also more likely to have higher fuel bills, which can result in significant levels of fuel poverty.

“Our aim is to assist as many families who have children with learning disabilities and   additional support needs in the area as we can. We are delighted to have beaten our original target of generating £150,000 of income for families at risk and to have successfully lifted at least16 families out of fuel poverty.”

Monday, November 23, 2009