Aimed at the long-term unemployed and those facing barriers to work, the project, entitled Energy Champions, is funded by Aberdeenshire Council and the European Social Fund. Using a mix of personal development and energy efficiency training, the programme will encourage 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.
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 an accredited qualification in energy efficiency and have the benefit of mentoring, on the job experience and support to move back into employment.
Scarf’s Energy Champions Project Co-ordinator, Emma Paterson, said: ‘Domestic fuel prices have steadily risen over the past 10 years. In Aberdeenshire alone over 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.
‘The Energy Champions initiative 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.
‘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 first course. For more information you can register your interest at www.scarf.org.uk/energy-champions or email firstname.lastname@example.org.