An innovative 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 Alford 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 elevate fuel poverty.
A series of Energy Champions groups have already been established in Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff, Macduff, Turriff, Inverurie and Huntly as part of the pilot scheme and now Scarf hopes to recruit an enthusiastic group from in and around Alford with an information session being held at the town’s library on Monday, February 11 from 12.30pm-1.30pm.
Energy Champions Project co-ordinator, Emma Paterson, said: “Since we launched Energy Champions in 2017 we have trained 26 Energy Champions who have gone on to establish 55 information sessions or advice hubs across 10 communities in Aberdeenshire, delivering advice and support to more than 140 households. In addition, we have recruited two former Energy Champions to full time roles within Scarf.
“This unique programme is designed to support and strengthen people and communities across Aberdeenshire to counteract the problems caused by fuel poverty and unemployment and we are really proud of what we have achieved so far.”
The benefits of the 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 group from people who live in or around Alford with an anticipated start date of Monday, February 19. Anyone interested in applying or looking for more information is invited to attend the information session at Alford Library on Monday, February 11 from 12.30pm-1.30pm, or information can be found by visiting www.scarf.org.uk/energychampions or emailing email@example.com.