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Fresh start for dundee’s homeless

Almost 5,000 homeless people across Dundee have had their lives transformed, thanks to a team of kind-hearted volunteers at Starter Packs Dundee.  

The project, which was given a grant of £12,000 in 2005 from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust, has helped to give vulnerable individuals and families a new lease of life through providing kits of essential equipment for homes.

The charity held its Annual General Meeting in the Dundee Chambers today (10th June), followed by a Civic Reception, in which representatives involved in the project attended to celebrate the success of the charity’s work so far.

The Starter Packs are given to homeless people, many of which are families with young children who are about to move into a new home, most of which have few - if any - possessions.

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

“Starter Packs Dundee is such a fantastic charity and we’re so pleased at the project’s success. If the Trust can assist families and young people, through the transition from being on the streets or in hostels or other temporary accommodation, to having a home of their own, it’s very worthwhile indeed.

“If people are given the basic goods they need when moving into a new home, such as furniture, bedding and kitchen equipment, they are less likely to fall into the fuel poverty trap. Starter Packs Dundee is such an important part of the community and it’s great to see that vulnerable people in the area are able to get back on their feet and regain their independence and confidence, thanks to the work of the project.”

The ScottishPower Energy People Trust was established in November 2005 to fund not-for-profit organisations 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.

So far, the ScottishPower Energy People Trust has awarded almost £5.5m to 116 projects helping over 391,000 individuals in over 243,000 households throughout Britain, with Starter Packs being one of the very first projects to be funded, back in 2005.

Starter Packs was established in 2000 to provide a package of essential items for people who have been homeless and who are moving into a new home. The packs, which are tailored according to the individual’s needs, include kettles, energy saving light bulbs, toiletries, bedding, saucepans, curtains and cutlery.

The contents of the packs – typically worth £400 – come from a range of sources. Items such as cutlery and crockery, bed-linen, towels and curtains are donated by some 60 local churches and disposable goods like toilet rolls can be bought but at a huge discount often because they have an out-of-date promotion on the packaging. Electrical items, such as kettles, are checked by one of the volunteers who has become a qualified appliance tester.

Clients are referred to Starter Packs Dundee from a variety of sources, such as women’s refuges, children’s homes, churches and the Council. They may include parents and children fleeing domestic violence, teenagers leaving care, single men coming out of the forces or prison and elderly people.

Isabel Taylor of Starter Packs Dundee, said:

“The project has provided a vital lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people in Dundee and we’re so grateful for the funding provided by the ScottishPower Energy People Trust. Without it, we would not have been able to help thousands of people throughout the area.”

The charity distributes almost 700 packs each year, which includes help for 450 children. The ScottishPower Energy People Trust’s funding assisted with running costs over the past four years and ensuring that there are energy saving light bulbs in every pack, and energy-saving advice, allowing the recipient to save money and energy, as well as helping the environment.

Isabel added: “The average age of our 21 volunteers is 65, most of whom are retired. All our volunteers have is the barest information about the client – their age, circumstances, and the ages and gender of any children. They try to make up a pack according to their needs, which makes the service a lot more personal as well as avoiding unnecessary wastage.

“In 2008 alone, our volunteers made up 698 Starter Packs, 570 double bedding packs, 484 single bedding packs and 878 curtain packs. We also moved in with TRANSFORM Furniture Project, which we work in partnership with. TRANSFORM continues to accommodate us and offer support, delivering starter packs to clients receiving furniture.”

“The need for Starter Packs has increased tremendously this year, which has made the volunteers and administrators very busy. It is fantastic to see the new faces on board and we hope to grow the volunteering team even further to enable us to build on our success.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009