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Project Breathes Life Back Into Community

AN INITIATIVE aiming to reduce fuel poverty is set to change the lives of hundreds of vulnerable residents in Glasgow, thanks to a grant of over £50,000 from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust.

The Fuel Poverty Awareness Project, run by Greater Pollok Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), kicked off in March this year and hopes to assist 700 people in the Southside area of Glasgow, including Govan, Shawlands, Cardonald and Pollokshaws.

The two year initiative was granted the funding to pay for a full-time worker to develop a project that will target vulnerable households within the area, including families with young children and single adults, to deliver a comprehensive income maximisation service.

Energy efficiency advice will be on offer, as well as a vital service which will help identify benefits and energy efficiency grants, which clients are entitled to.

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

“Fuel poverty can arise through lack of energy efficiency in the home and low household income, amongst other causes. Greater Pollok CAB’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Project is looking to combat these issues by offering vulnerable residents a service that ensures they are claiming all benefits they are entitled to as well as being offered sound energy efficiency advice.

“Unfortunately, there remains a significant under-claiming of benefit in the UK of almost £10billion and access to benefits is proving to be hugely significant in tackling fuel poverty. Often families are unaware that they are entitled to tax benefits and are working in low paid jobs so any increase to their income can make a huge difference to their quality of life. This is why we are confident that this project will make a difference to hundreds of lives in the Southside area of Glasgow.”

The project will forge links with local organisations, such as credit unions, the social work department and the Old People’s Welfare Association, to generate awareness of the project and encourage referrals.

Full-time project worker, Margaret Kennedy, who took on the role in March, will be meeting various groups to spread awareness and will target single parents through to older people.

Margaret said:

“Over the past couple of years, we have had a significant increase in the number of fuel poverty related enquiries. Between April 2007 and April 2008, we dealt with almost 13,000 enquiries in fuel arrears and last year over 16,000, which proves there is a definite need for this particular service.

“The next few months will be crucial in building awareness of the project and we hope that the service will make a difference to the lives of many in the Greater Pollock area.”

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.

For further information on the Fuel Poverty Awareness Project, please contact Margaret Kennedy on 0141 881 2462 / support3@gpollokcab.org.uk. Drop-in centre hours are Monday – 10am-4pm, Tuesday – 1pm-4pm and Friday – 10am-3.30pm.

Friday, July 24, 2009