The University of Ulster and Bryson Energy have secured funding of £1m to deliver a range of fuel poverty initiatives across Northern Ireland.
The overall aim of the project is to inform policy on fuel poverty and enable more effective intervention and support for vulnerable householders across Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland has the highest level of households deemed to be in fuel poverty across the UK (currently at 42%). Fuel poverty has many side effects on families and individuals, including health issues relating to a cold home to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The funding, awarded by Oak Foundation a Geneva based philanthropic organisation, will be targeted at three key areas that contribute to fuel poverty: income, energy efficiency and access to energy.
Orla Ward, Senior Manager from Bryson Energy part of Bryson Charitable Group, Northern Ireland’s leading social enterprise, explained: “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 School of Psychology at the University of Ulster will be working with Bryson Energy on the partnership project.
She said: “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.”
Amanda Beswick from Oak Foundation explained: “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.”