More than 550 households in one of the most under privileged parts of Merseyside are on average each £2,000 better off thanks to a successful community-based project funded by the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

The Home and Debt Efficiency Worker initiative, run by Knowsley-based charity Centre 63, helps vulnerable youths and their families access free services and advice on fuel efficiency. 

The project, first launched in 2016, offers one-to-one support through community outreach programmes, specialised support groups and tailored workshops and has been supported by a £36,548 funding boost from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

Service users have access to practical support through the advice centre and direct home visits. Out of the 553 households, 374 received benefit health checks, 254 benefited from loft installations and 219 received boiler repairs and replacements.

Centre 63 supports youths and their families across Knowsley who are experiencing multiple difficulties in their lives from mental health problems to drug or alcohol misuse. The charity’s aim is to empower the Borough’s most vulnerable households to enable them to improve their lives and wellbeing.

In one case, a young woman benefited from the project’s support to help stabilise her household debt and ultimately improve the wellbeing of her young family. Having fallen behind in her household bills, the single parent’s financial situation spiralled out of control leading her to seek support from the project.

The woman* said: “I didn’t really know what to expect when I was referred to the project at Centre 63 as I was struggling so much due to my benefit issues. The worker was so supportive and dealt with everything for me quickly. They are such a friendly team who are non-judgmental and caring. Through the support, I now have my finances back on track and they have given me the confidence to move on into a volunteer work placement which will prepare me for work.”

Jeane Lowe, CEO at Centre 63, said: “Some of the most vulnerable residents in Knowsley are young people and their families. Our aim here at Centre 63 is to create opportunities to help improve their social, physical and economic wellbeing.

“This project has been hugely successful as it has allowed us to recognise the vital role an energy advice programme can play in supporting young people; we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Energy People Trust.”

George Howarth, Labour MP for Knowsley, said: “Centre 63 champions some of the most vulnerable people in Knowsley. Funding from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust has made a big impact, it has ensured young people in Knowsley are equipped with the support they need in terms of income maximisation and managing household finances to ultimately improve their day-to-day lives.”

Richard Taylor, Secretary of the ScottishPower Energy People Trust, said: "It's fantastic to see the success of the Home and Debt Efficiency Worker initiative. The Energy People Trust is committed to supporting people in communities across the country and we work with some really inspirational projects to make this happen. The project has proved to be a great success and we're very pleased to have played a part in supporting the team."

The project helped 553 households access a total of £1,097,506 in additional income through benefit checks, fuel debt assistance and improved home insulation.

*Project beneficiary does not wish to be named.






Thursday, August 31, 2017