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Project's Aim to Bring Warmth to Thousands of Local Families

Dumfries Welfare Rights is a charity that assists vulnerable families in Dumfries and Galloway who are having financial difficulties, in particular those with young children.

The ScottishPower Energy People Trust granted the charity almost £100,000 to fund two advice workers, specialising in fuel poverty. 

The workers main aim is to increase the household income of around 2,000 homes / 8,000 individuals in the area, through advice on energy efficiency and benefit health checks.

The two year project is named the Fuel Poverty Income Maximisation for Families with Young Children in Dumfries and Galloway.

Bill McCormack the manager of Dumfries Welfare Rights, said:

“We are delighted to have received the generous grant from the ScottishPower Energy People Trust and are pleased with the progress of the project since the workers have come on board.

“We have been busy setting up benefit surgeries across the region in order to target groups who are a little more difficult to reach. So far, we have set up regular surgeries in Stranraer, Kelloholm, Dumfries, Northwest Dumfries and Newton Stewart. We are also contacting every toddler group in the region to offer the information leaflets, again to target vulnerable parents.

“Even at this early stage of this project, many families have seen an increase in their household income due to the additional benefits we have identified. Many local people have now had free loft and cavity insulation fitted, with some waiting on central heating and other measures to help reduce the risk of fuel poverty.”

The two full time advisors have been in post since May 2009, working hard to deliver an innovative income maximisation project to families in the Dumfries and Galloway area.

The project’s main aim is to deliver benefit health checks and energy efficient advice / measures to parents – the main target group - by leafleting all 106 primary and 17 secondary schools in the area. The workers have now directly accessed all school-age children in the region, by working with nurseries and other relevant agencies, and as a result are now reaching out to most parents throughout Dumfriesshire in need of assistance.

Working alongside the local Council, the project aims to have the advice leaflets delivered to all schools before the Christmas holidays. This will result in parents being informed on possible missing benefits and the new Government energy assistance package.                            

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

“It’s inevitable that over the cold winter months, heating will be on for longer, resulting in higher fuel bills. By offering advice on how to be more efficient with heating, as this project does, households can reduce bills and therefore lower the risk of living in fuel poverty.

“Also, by highlighting the availability of government energy efficiency packages and potential benefits to individuals, this could boost income and cut the risk of fuel poverty.”

Friday, December 25, 2009