Northern Ireland has the highest level of households who are deemed to be in fuel poverty across the UK. Fuel poverty has many side effects on the families and individuals affected, including health issues relating to a cold home to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Bryson Energy and the University of Ulster recently announced their success in securing funding of £1M to deliver a range of fuel poverty initiatives within Northern Ireland.
This funding awarded by Oak Foundation, a Geneva based philanthropic organisation is designed to tackle all three key areas that contribute to fuel poverty; income, energy efficiency and access to energy.
Amanda Beswick from Oak Foundation explains, "We commit our resources to addressing issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. In Northern Ireland we see fuel poverty as a key priority and we value partnerships and encourage our partners to work together to leverage programme strengths and resources. We are delighted to partner with Bryson Energy and University of Ulster who have been working in this area for many years and understand the challenges in tackling this issue".
Orla Ward, Senior Manager from Bryson Energy part of Bryson Charitable Group, Northern Ireland's leading social enterprise explains, "This funding will provide opportunities to investigate further the root causes of fuel poverty and test ways to effectively tackle these causes.
We at Bryson have been working in this area for many years and can see at first hand the challenges that are facing families and individuals every day to heat their home effectively. The funding will support five key projects under the title 'affordable warmth'. This will include working with new partners in the health arena, researching the oil industry, exploring retrofit options for NI housing stock and work on payment and budgeting. We are delighted to be working with the University of Ulster on these initiatives."
Professor Christine Liddell from the University of Ulster is lead UU scientist on the partnership with Bryson Energy. She comments: "Working together, our partnership has already built a strong track record for undertaking projects which make a difference to people in fuel poverty. This new initiative will widen the partnership's impact, giving fresh opportunities for finding solutions to fuel poverty in Northern Ireland".
The overall aim of the funding is to inform policy on fuel poverty and enable more effective intervention and support for vulnerable householders across Northern Ireland.