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East Lothian residents secure £469,000 of additional benefits

AN EAST LOTHIAN project based in Musselburgh has helped local residents secure £469,303 of additional benefits they were entitled to over the past year.

Carers of East Lothian (COEL) was provided with £85,691 of funding over three years from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust to help alleviate fuel poverty and support adult carers to maximise their income through welfare benefit uptake and achieve a sustainable reduction in fuel poverty through its ‘Warmer and Better Off’ project.

Since the project began in April 2011 the registered charity has already helped more than 750 people by employing a welfare benefits and energy advisor to offer advice, support and assistance to people who look after families and friends. 

The COEL advisor offers help to access insulation measures and grants for heating upgrades, gives tariff and supplier advice to ensure the best deal possible and provides advice on benefit entitlement as well as assistance to complete claim forms.

In addition to clients securing £469,303 of additional household income, there have been further positive benefits from the project. Carers have been helped to access a range of advice, information, services and provision that improves home energy efficiency. 

Six training sessions have also been delivered for social work teams, health and voluntary sector staff to embed energy efficiency advice within carers’ assessments and informal carer support.  Similarly, six information sessions have been delivered to groups of carers to further increase their knowledge and understanding of benefits and energy efficiency.

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

“Funding provided by the ScottishPower Energy People Trust to Carers of East Lothian has made an enormous difference to more than 750 people and we are delighted to have been able to help. 

“It is a fantastic achievement for an organisation to be given £85,000 over three years and turn that into a £469,000 benefit for people requiring assistance in the local area in the project’s first year alone.  We look forward to seeing what Carers of East Lothian can do over the next couple of years.

“This is a highly positive initiative which ensures carers can access the information and assistance they need to make their homes more warm and energy efficient and maximise the household income for both them and the people they care for.  We are pleased that the charity is working to reduce the number of people affected fuel poverty by ensuring access to the wider services they need to stay warm and well.”

Tony Segall, Centre Manager at Carers of East Lothian, said:  “We’d like to thank ScottishPower Energy People Trust for its funding of our Warmer and Better Off project.  Funding has made a real difference to carers in East Lothian and enabled hundreds to lift themselves out of fuel poverty and keep warm throughout the year. 

“Our project has been very successful in helping people in its first year and we’re continuing to build on this achievement for the duration of the initiative.”

Mrs I, a carer who received help from the project, explained:  “I couldn’t have done this myself.  I found the help and guidance from staff invaluable, and would advise others to approach the service.”

You can get further information or make a referral to the Warmer and Better Off Project by contacting lisa@coel.org.uk or on 0131 653 1059.

For further information on Carers of East Lothian please visit www.coel.org.uk

Thursday, June 28, 2012