Since its establishment, the Midleton Family Resource Centre has identified and challenged issues of disadvantage by providing support to families and individuals within our community. Midleton Family Resource Chairperson, Linda Harley explained the increased impact of fuel poverty on the community, saying “This winter was a really difficult one for some of our families – with some choosing between keeping warm and eating well.” In fact a survey conducted by “One Big Switch” earlier this year asked about the effect the high cost of energy has had on their homes noting;
• 1 in 3 households declared themselves facing ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ energy bill stress,
• 1 in 4 said they didn’t run heaters this winter, even when it made them uncomfortable, and
• 5% of households are so fuel poor, they’re spending over 40% of income on energy costs
In order to help families, Midleton FRC co-ordinator Sean Ahern researched a scheme called “Better Energy Warmer Homes (BEWH)”. Run by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), it delivers free energy efficiency upgrades to the homes of people who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments. To be eligible for the scheme the house must be built before 2006, be owner-occupied and the owner must be in receipt of one of the following social welfare payments:
• Fuel Allowance
• Job Seekers and have a child under the age of 7
• Working Family Payment
• One Parent Family Payment
• Domiciliary Care Allowance
• Carer Allowance and live with the person you are caring for
The BEWH scheme covers works such as attic and wall insulation, draught proofing, lagging jackets, energy advice, low energy light bulbs, replacement windows, heating system upgrades and Building Energy Rating (BER).
Sean spoke with families who’ve availed of the BEWH scheme and heard how the benefits were immediate with a warmer home meaning lower energy bills. “The next step for the Midleton FRC is to let more people in the Midleton Community know about this grant. Not everyone likes to get information online and many people prefer to have a conversation with someone, so we realised a drop in clinic would be a help.”
Midleton FRC, with support from Ervia and NCE insulation will host a drop in clinic about the BEWH scheme from 2pm to 5pm on Wednesday 12th June, in the Midleton Community Forum. No appointments are needed and help will be provided on the day to fill out the necessary paperwork.
Sean says “As there is a waiting period between application and getting works completed, we are hosting this event early in the summer so that eligible applicants will experience the benefits as soon as possible this winter.”