THAW Orkney is a local fuel poverty charity. This year alone it has provided £320,000 of support to people in Orkney. This pandemic year has been its busiest ever.
Find out more here: THAW Orkney: Supporting Islanders With Their Energy Costs
THAW Orkney has been unsuccessful in obtaining its main source of funding. Organisations across Scotland are struggling to support families and individuals hit hard by the Covid pandemic and rising bills for food and heat.
Rhoda Walker, Chair of THAW Orkney explained:
“With our present main project with the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) having come to an end on 31st March, we had submitted funding bids over recent months to secure the service for another two years. However, due to the current highly competitive nature of charity funding we have learned that our main bid has not been successful.
” While we await a decision on other bids, it means that as things stand THAW Orkney has funding from BGET for three months, through to June 2021, with a hope of another nine yet to be confirmed, and for a much-reduced staff team.
“This will have an impact on the level of service THAW Orkney can provide, with a likely consequent impact on statutory services and other Third Sector services.
“Given the fact that the Third Sector in Orkney has very much been the First Responder in the pandemic, I think there is a conversation to be had over the lack of Covid-19 recovery funding – if any – being diverted to Third Sector here.
“In the end of the day THAW Orkney is basically addressing market failure. Fuel poverty – especially at a time when folk are spending so much more time at home – has become a major health and wellbeing issue, with impacts on physical and mental health from living in cold, damp homes.”
“We have reached out to Orkney Islands Council, NHS Orkney, and the Orkney Partnership, to see if there is any potential support that they could give THAW Orkney at this time. The trustee board feel it is crucial to maintain a level of service to meet a demand that is unlikely to decrease, with households on Universal Credit in Orkney up by 112% in the year to November 2020. “
The Petition was set up by Orkney woman Dee Steel. She explained on the petition site why she set it up:
“They have done so much for me and my family over this past year. We’re not the only ones. If you, or a member of your family, has had any help from THAW Orkney, and you value their Staff; their Services and their Expertise, then please Sign and Share this Petition.
“I’m trying to show the OIC, and anyone else who may be in charge of a funding scheme, how much we value this team and how much they have helped our Community and how much they now need our help to keep them funded, in employment and doing the job they’re brilliant at.”
On top of the work recently highlighted, THAW Orkney has partnered with Orkney Charitable Trust to help support local families, and has been able to provide OCT with details of almost 100 families for potential further support during the spring. This will help address not only fuel poverty but child poverty in the islands.
Rhoda Walker said:
“This kind of close partnership working is reaching many more folk in Orkney than one organisation could do alone, and shows the added value that a service like THAW Orkney provides in the community.
“The staff are very heartened that a petition has been started to gather support for them as we seek further funding. It is humbling to know that clients who we have been able to support this past year, and in years past, are appreciative of that helping hand. We hope that we can find a funding solution so that we can be here for folk as long as we are needed in these uncertain times.”