Young people moving into independent living for the first time, in particular from living in supported accomodation, are typically some of the most vulnerable people in our local communities. Living alone for the first time, they are at high risk of finding themselves in fuel poverty.
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Registered Charity in England and Wales (290511)
Many young people moving from supported accomodation will have experienced familial abuse, rejection, disruption and loss in their lives, all of which will have a detrimental impact on their ability to make the transition into adulthood. Research undertaken by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation states the following as some of the barriers to learning and life challenges faced by these groups: ‚Ä¢ They may be victims of physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect; ‚Ä¢ They may have faced difficulties growing up - getting in trouble at home, in their neighbourhood or at school; ‚Ä¢ Some need special help with physical disabilities, or have mental health problems; ‚Ä¢ A Children in Need Census suggests that 16.4% of children looked after in a sample were disabled (DfES, 2004a); ‚Ä¢ Many will have moved home up to 13 times in their childhood and will have difficulties in building the relationships they need so much; ‚Ä¢ Higher levels of truancy and school exclusion rates; ‚Ä¢ Resulting in lower or no educational attainment and poor or no communication skills; ‚Ä¢ Loneliness; ‚Ä¢ Isolation; ‚Ä¢ Unemployment; ‚Ä¢ Poverty; ‚Ä¢ Drift; ‚Ä¢ Homelesness; and ‚Ä¢ Very low self efficiency - their lives seemingly controlled by others, e.g abandoned by family, excluded from school and put into care. Young people living alone for the first time are at a high risk of finding themselves in fuel poverty in the future. Making the transition into their own property is a complicated step. Young peoples‚Äô level of knowledge on energy efficiency issues depends very much on individual school curriculums and extra-curricula activities; their family‚Äôs understanding of these issues; general attitude towards acquiring debts (in the family context) and job opportunities within their community. Vulnerable young people moving away from home for the first time are much more likely to lack knowledge on these subjects, perhaps because of poor school attendance and/ or difficulties with reading and writing. Ironically, socially excluded young people are most likely to need this knowledge, typically setting up home for the first time alone, without the support and knowledge of family and friends. This can be a very traumatic experience and one that requires the sort of additional knowledge that is not readily available through the usual routes. The need for such a project has been identified through discussions with charities such as the Rainer Trust, St. Christopher‚Äôs Fellowship, Shelter, CRISIS & Young Peoples‚Äô foyers, and also with other not for profit organisaitons providing housing such as Local Authorities and Housing Associations providing housing to young and vulnerable first time tenants, all of whom aim to provide the best possible support to young people seeking independent living. NEA has since held discussions with members of the Carbon Monixide Consumer Awareness Alliance (COCAA) as to the possibility of including messages regarding gas safety and the dangers of carbon monoxide, as part of any energy efficiency training NEA delivers to this vulnerable group. NEA wishes to engage with these housing and service providers to ensure that staff who advise potential young tenants fully understand the relevance of energy efficiency within the home, the impact of cold homes on the young tenants health as well as reinforcing key gas safety messages which are central to COCAA‚Äôs Carbon Monoxide Campaign. The aim of the project is to ensure professionals working with vulnerable young people in supported accommodation and young people moving to independent living for the first time, are able to communicate energy efficiency issues effectively and gas safety issues effectively, and to raise awareness and understanding of the impact of poor housing conditions on their client‚Äôs health, welfare and future well-being. This project has three key objectives: ‚Ä¢ To deliver a pilot training programme (including promotion and training materials) which will deliver 20 sessions to professionals who work with vulnerable young people moving to independent living; ‚Ä¢ To administer a hardship fund to vulnerable young people (aged 16-24) who may need assistance to pay off small debts or with costs towards energy saving measures and household appliances. Each of the 20 training sessions will be ring-fenced ¬£250 of the ¬£5,000 hardship fund held by NEA. Professionals from each organisation represented at the training will contact NEA when they wish to claim their ring-fenced funds for client/ clients they feel are in need of additional support. NEA will issue professionals with assessment criteria for the fund following the delivery of the training session. ‚Ä¢ To undertake local profiling in each local training delivery area to ensure the training provided is specific, tailored and relevant, and to establish effective referral mechanisms for further advice and support for vulnerable young people. During the year one pilot it is expected that 200 professionals will be trained. The sustainability of the project will come from the professionals who will continue to use their new training in their everyday roles, effectively acting as ‚ÄòChampions‚Äô by continuing to spread the information they have learnt to young people in their care and through the young people themselves who will continue to act responsibly towards energy efficiency and who will pass the message on to friends, family and colleagues. This is a flexible proposal and NEA would be keen to discuss options with potential supporter interested in this outline proposal. Funding of ¬£36,000 + VAT is required to support year one of the programme. This figure would be reduced to ¬£31,000 + VAT without the Hardship Fund.
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