An innovative pilot scheme to help people across Aberdeenshire access training and skills as a starting point on the journey back to employment is now seeking applicants from Inverurie and the surrounding area.
The Energy Champions project was created by Aberdeen-based social enterprise, Scarf, with the aim of tackling fuel poverty in Aberdeenshire by providing peer to peer energy efficiency advice in the local community.
Aimed at the long-term unemployed and those facing barriers to work, the project is funded by Scarf, Aberdeenshire Council and the European Social Fund. Using a mix of personal development and energy efficiency training, the programme encourages participants to boost their self-confidence and develop resilience, giving them the tools to make positive choices around their own employability whilst providing a benefit to their local community in helping to alleviate fuel poverty.
A series of Energy Champions groups have already been established in Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff, Macduff, Turriff and Fyvie as part of the 12-month pilot and now Scarf hopes to recruit an enthusiastic cohort from in and around Inverurie with an information session being held at the town’s Fly Cup on Monday, May 21 from 11am-1.30pm.
Energy Champions Project Co-ordinator, Emma Paterson, said: “Domestic fuel prices have steadily risen over the past 10 years and, in Aberdeenshire alone, more than 42,000 householders are living in fuel poverty. This has led to continued pressure on households with low incomes, inefficient homes, and high fuel costs. This challenge is set against a back drop of increasing unemployment in Aberdeenshire and a large proportion of unemployed persons with multiple barriers to employment.
“Energy Champions is a unique programme designed to support and strengthen people and communities across Aberdeenshire to counteract the problems caused by fuel poverty and unemployment. Tailored training will be provided to all participants as well as follow up mentoring and support, building their confidence and giving them the confidence to enter back into the workplace.”
The benefits of the newly launched programme are two-fold. The Energy Champions will be given the technical and behavioural skills to deliver peer to peer energy efficiency advice to their families, neighbours and peer groups leaving a legacy of good energy behaviours in their communities. As well as this, the participants will complete the programme with a qualification in energy efficiency and have the benefit of mentoring, on the job experience and support to move back into employment.
Ms Paterson added: “Although energy advice services already exist, it is hoped that this peer led approach will result in accessing those that are traditionally less likely to use existing services, resulting in warmer and more comfortable homes with a reduced risk of ill health through living in cold homes. We also hope to see a reduction in energy costs, through more efficient use of heating and appliances, switching or addressing fuel debt.”
The Energy Champions project is now accepting applications for the next cohort from people who live in or around Inverurie with an anticipated start date of May 28. Anyone interested in applying or looking for more information is invited to attend the information session on Monday, May 21 at the Fly Cup in Inverurie, or information can be found by visiting www.scarf.org.uk/energychampions or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.