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Independent Living Support, Dumfries

Independent Living Support (ILS) was formed in 2002 to provide housing support to vulnerable people aged 16 to 60 years old. In Feb 2007, ILS became a charity and is run to provide specialised support to adults whose tenancies are in jeopardy or who are finding it difficult to establish a home.

The Empowering People Project run by Independent Living Support (ILS) and based in Dumfries, was awarded over £50,000 from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust in 2007 to fund a three year initiative to assist residents at risk of fuel poverty in Dumfries and Galloway. 

ILS was then given a funding boost of £60,000 at the beginning of 2012 from the Trust to continue helping Dumfries and Galloway’s most vulnerable residents and it is hoped that more than 3000 people will be helped through the initiative.

The project has a long-term aim of reducing fuel poverty in rural areas across Scotland by providing crisis funding to those who are most vulnerable and offering benefit health checks to ensure that all eligible benefits and energy grants were being applied for.

Whether a service user is having problems with their energy supplier or having difficulty paying bills, the project aims to help resolve these issues which can lead to fuel poverty.

Individuals are referred to the project, either through third party organisations or directly through ILS. Once they are referred, they can then benefit from a free drop-in service for advice, use of the phone or internet to assist those having issues with their energy bills.

Jo McCaig, Service Coordinator at ILS in Dumfries, said:

“The generous donation from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust has allowed us to reach out to so many people who are having problems with energy bills or, worst case scenario, cannot afford to pay energy bills.

“We have many vulnerable clients who we help out on a daily basis.  The funds that the ScottishPower Energy People Trust has provided us with have enabled us to continue with our project and work towards alleviating fuel poverty for many people across the area.

“Our service users include individuals and families, many of whom are vulnerable and struggling to cope with homelessness, gaining and sustaining a tenancy, budgeting and coping with day-to-day life.  The funding is crucial in providing a step towards a new life for many of them.

“Making a marked difference to people’s lives is very reaffirming.  A gentleman that we helped was struggling with his finances.  He is in ill-health and as he was at home for longer periods than most people, he required extra heating which he could not afford. We checked his benefits application and helped him to claim Disability Living Allowance which he was entitled to. He now receives an extra £96.20 each week or more than £5,000 per year which he was entitled to.

“The aim of our project is to offer energy efficiency advice enabling residents to maximise their finances and sustain their energy payments.

“All residents seeking support will be able to access personalised energy assessments as well as benefit health checks.  Through the advice services the project works to ensure that residents are claiming what they are entitled to and helps families to maximise their incomes. 

“Simple energy efficiency services such as draught proofing, thermometers, energy usage monitors and warm bed packs are available to the most vulnerable customers.  Funding will also be used to ensure those in urgent need will be helped to guarantee they have heat and light.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012