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Project has the power one year on and is looking forward to the future

With a year’s work under its belt already, Independent Living Support (ILS) is celebrating after helping vulnerable people suffering from fuel poverty.

The Empowering People Project, based in Dumfries, was granted over £50,000 from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust last year to fund a three year initiative to assist residents in Dumfries and Galloway. Already, it has helped clients save almost £10,000 through energy bill-related issues.

The project celebrated the success of the initial year by hosting the latest ScottishPower Energy People Trust Trustees meeting, held at the ILS office in George Street Meuse, Dumfries.

The grant is being used to fund the Empowering People Project, which aims to provide crisis funding and advice on how to manage clients’ energy accounts responsibly.

Established in 2005 as an independent Charity, the Trust funds not-for-profit organisations which 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.

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

“This is a crucial time for projects like ILS to be helping those in need as the cold winter months mean individuals spend more on heating and this can push more people into fuel poverty.

“We’re really pleased with the project’s progress so far and would like to praise staff at ILS for their hard work over the initial year and look forward to seeing the results over the next two years.”

The Empowering People Project is aimed at vulnerable Dumfries and Galloway residents aged between 16 and 60 who are classed as living in fuel poverty.

So far, over 150 people have benefited from the service, which includes advice on how to manage fuel bills effectively as well as crisis funding for ILS service users who are in need of it most.

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.

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

Elaine Colquhoun, Financial and Operational Manager at Independent Living Support, said: “We’re delighted with the positive progress so far and are pleased to have helped so many locals.

“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, are having to choose between food and paying bills. 

“Our service users range from individuals or families, all of whom are vulnerable and struggling to cope with homelessness, gaining and sustaining a tenancy, budgeting and coping with day to day life so the funding is crucial in providing that step towards a new life for many.”

With many clients living in rural areas surrounding Dumfries, offering a telephone and email service is crucial for Independent Living Support. With permission, a project worker can contact clients’ utility companies directly in order to help diffuse any issues, which would probably lead on to fuel poverty.

So far, the ScottishPower Energy People Trust has awarded over £4m to 94 projects helping over 236,000 individuals in over 100,000 households throughout Britain.

The Empowering People Project offers its services between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday, they offer an appointment system and a drop in facility. Those interested, should contact 01387 261746 or email or phone ILS on 01387 262226 or email The drop-in centre is at 8 George Street Meuse, Dumfries, DG1 1HH.

If you would like to know more please contact EPP or ILS and they will be happy to talk you through the services they offer.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008