Funding boost to make local residents smile

Vulnerable residents across England have been given something to SMILE about thanks to the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

Newcastle-based National Energy Action (NEA) was granted over £50,000, from the Trust to fund the SMILE project – Supporting More Independent Lives Everywhere – which aims to give free advice on fuel poverty to those in need.

This project alongside Newcastle Warm Zone was invited to NEA’s office to meet the Trustees of the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

Ann Loughrey, ScottishPower’s Head of External Business and Community Relations and The Energy People Trust’s Company Secretary, said:

“Both projects aim to assist vulnerable people in England and in particular, Newcastle, who are fuel poor.

“Fuel poverty now affects more than 2million households across Britain so any assistance we can provide through our Energy People Trust is essential today.

“Independent research, which was carried out before we set up the Trust, proved that this was the best method of assisting those in fuel poverty – allowing the professionals to recognise and assist those in need of our funding.”

The funding will enable the SMILE project to provide 40 training sessions for workers in schemes like the SureStart programme – the Government initiative that aims to achieve better outcomes for children, parents and communities in England.

The training sessions will be aimed at staff from initiatives like SureStart, as well as others who work alongside families with young children, highlighting how to recognise the link between clients'''' poor health and cold damp homes as well as how to communicate energy efficiency issues effectively.



William Gillis, Chief Executive of NEA, said:

“With the generous grant from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust, we have been able to set up these worthwhile training sessions in the North West and East of England.
 “Even simply understanding the causes and effects of fuel poverty is a starting stone and will allow these workers to identify those in need of assistance.”

Representatives from Newcastle Warm Zone were also presenting during the Trustees visit and were giving funding of almost £50,000 to carry out a comprehensive benefits advice service, as well as providing advice on income maximisation to vulnerable residents in the Newcastle area.

A Benefits Advisor was recruited using the funding and has a special responsibility to deliver the service to households living in fuel poverty that include children under 16.

David Connor, Newcastle Warm Zone Director, said:

“The project has been a major success so far. In the past year alone, the benefits advisor supported by the Energy People Trust has helped families who are living in or near fuel poverty claim almost half a million pounds worth of benefits they are entitled to”.

“From this amount, homes with children under the age of 16 benefited from £370,000 of additional benefits, which exceeds our first year target.

“We are very grateful for the funding provided from the Trust and our figures prove it is already making a major difference in tackling fuel poverty across Newcastle, particularly in homes with children..”

The ScottishPower Energy People Trust is a charity administered by, but making decisions independently of, ScottishPower.  The Trustees include representatives from Energy Action Scotland, National Energy Action and Glasgow University Urban Studies. 

So far, the Trust has awarded a staggering £2.7m to 69 projects across Great Britain, assisting over 129,000 individuals.

For information on The ScottishPower Energy People Trust visit www.energypeopletrust.co.uk.

Monday, July 06, 2009