Members of the Ebico Team spent a day with the Plugging the Gap project, sponsored by the Ebico Trust, at one of the project’s main hubs the Trinity Centre in Louth bringing you more insight into the project as well as some personal stories of people who received help from the project. During our day with the main partners, Community Lincs and the Parish of Louth, we spoke with the people that are behind the project as well as the charities and organisations that are working in partnership with them, getting the feel of how day to day looks like.
Janet, Greg and Jane, apart from giving a first-hand help to those that are in fuel poverty, also work closely with Andy from Citizens Advice Bureau, Kerry from Home Start charity and Becky from the city council’s housing support, providing much needed comprehensive help to those who need it the most. The Plugging the Gap project jumps-in when one of the organisations doesn’t have the resources to provide further help, and makes sure that people do not lose much-needed support.
Apart from learning more about the project and seeing how hands-on help is being provided, we also spoke to Marie who was one of the first people, in August 2013, that Plugging the Gap helped. This helped show us how the project is proactive and well connected with other organisations.
Initially Marie approached Andy, from East Lindsey Citizens Advice Bureau, as she was struggling to buy food. Andy referred Marie to Plugging the Gap as they could provide immediate help by donating a food parcel. After the initial assessment carried out, they noticed that the problem was much bigger than just struggling with food. Marie also had a significant fuel debt on her electricity prepayment meter and generally struggled to budget. She initially received help in the form of a top-up to her prepayment meter and the food parcel donation.
However, the project’s aim is to provide people with skills so they can manage on their own in the future. So she was helped with support in getting in touch with her energy supplier, which agreed to reduce her fuel debt by writing some of the debt off. Plugging the Gap also got other charities involved which have supported her in various other ways. Apart from some financial problems, Marie also lacked budgeting and cooking skills and she had very little confidence.
Marie has been helped with budgeting and, as a result, her confidence has grown significantly since she was first referred. Her fuel debt is now manageable and she has more confidence in talking to her supplier. In fact she managed to persuade her supplier to send her a form for a grant to write her whole debt off.
Plugging the Gap partner, Louth Trinity Centre, is running a cooking training program which Marie is now regularly attending. She finally feels that she has some control over her life and finances.
This is only one out of many successful stories about how people struggling with fuel poverty are helped supported.