Connect with us

Community

Vulnerable Crawley residents can now get funding for energy bills

Published

on

Vulnerable residents in West Sussex can get a helping hand with their bills thanks to the council’s energy supplier. 

Your Energy Sussex, which supplies gas and 100% renewable electricity to homes across the county, is working with Citizens Advice to fund emergency fuel vouchers for pre-payment meter customers (£28 for a single person and £49 for a family).

To qualify, applicants must be vulnerable (i.e. due to age or a health condition), have limited income, be in receipt of means-tested benefits and face difficult financial circumstances. Applicants do not have to be a Your Energy Sussex customer to receive a voucher.

Residents should contact their local Citizens Advice Branch if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Deborah Urquhart, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:

“I am delighted that we are able to use the surplus we generate through Your Energy Sussex to help some of the most vulnerable people in the county. In recent weeks we’ve been able to increase the amount of funding available to the scheme to take account of the extra financial challenges people are facing.”

The Emergency Fuel Voucher scheme is part of Your Energy Sussex’s wider commitment to combatting fuel poverty. The supplier was launched by West Sussex County Council in 2018 to get more people to switch and save money by offering consistently competitive energy prices and working hard to keep customers on its best tariff. It is supported by councils across Sussex including East Sussex County Council and Brighton & Hove City Council.

Your Energy Sussex prides itself of being different to most energy suppliers because it is run on a not-for-profit basis, supplies 100% renewable electricity* to all its customers and uses the surplus it generates to build a Fuel Poverty Fund to help local residents.

If you would like to support the work of Your Energy Sussex and become a customer, go to www.yourenergysussex.org.uk for a quote.

Community

Southern Rail joins train companies extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse

Published

on

Govia Thameslink Railway is supporting an extended nationwide initiative to help domestic abuse victims reach refuge accommodation by offering free train travel.

Govia Thameslink Railway’s Chief Operating Officer Steve White said:

“With the numbers of survivors of domestic abuse soaring during the pandemic, charities are expecting a surge in people trying to escape to a refuge when lockdown restrictions relax. Abusers frequently withhold money, which is why the free train travel we offer as an industry is so vitally important for the hundreds of victims making use of this scheme.”

Southern Rail and its parent company Govia Thameslink are joining other train companies in extending free train travel for survivors of domestic abuse until the end of March next year.

The move comes as figures show four survivors a day, on average, have been using the scheme and reports show that abuse has worsened during coronavirus restrictions.  

Charities are bracing themselves for a surge in people fleeing abusive relationships when restrictions are lifted. The extension will help hundreds more people to take the train, for free, to reach a safe refuge.  

Rail to refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation. Since April, train operators have provided free tickets to 836 people, including 210 children. In other words, four survivors have travelled to safety each day on average using the Rail to refuge scheme. 

First introduced by Southeastern in September 2019 and then GWR on its routes in March 2020, all train operators joined the Rail to refuge scheme on 9 April with the original plan to keep it in place for approximately 12 weeks or for the duration of lockdown.  

However, with refuges expecting a spike in demand after the current national restrictions are eased, the scheme is now being extended for the rest of the financial year until the end of March 2021. This means hundreds more survivors will access free travel. 

The number of survivors of domestic abuse asking for help has soared during the pandemic. Women’s Aid reported a 41% increase in users visiting its instant messaging Live Chat site within the first two weeks of lockdown in March and as a result extended its opening hours to 10am – 4pm daily. Respect, which runs the Men’s Advice Line, has increased service hours from 46 to 75 hours weekly to support male victims, after seeing a huge increase in demand since March. 

Refuges expect to see the increase in demand across their services continue in the coming months as domestic abuse is worsening and abusers are using the pandemic as a tool for abuse. A recent Women’s Aid survey shows 61% of survivors living with their abuser reported that abuse worsened from March – June 2020, under tighter coronavirus restrictions.  

Many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Free travel can be a lifeline for people fleeing abuse who may not have access to cash. Two-thirds (63%) of people that booked a journey through Rail to refuge said they would not have travelled if the journey had not been paid for. 

Nicki Norman, acting Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: 

Women face huge barriers in leaving an abuser. Notonly is it an extremely dangerous time, but many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Women tell us that they simply cannot afford to leave because the perpetrator has controlled their money and they have none of their own. Many women and children escape to a refuge with nothing at all.  

Thanks to the rail industry removing the financial barriers of travel, hundreds of women have left abusive relationships and been able to access safety. It is welcome news that this important initiative is being extended, especially as the COVID 19 pandemic continues to severely impact survivors of domestic abuse.” 

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer at the Rail Delivery Group, said: 

“We’re proud to have provided a vital lifeline for almost a thousand people escaping a desperate situation, but there are still too many women, men and children that need help. Our staff are working hard to support the survivors of domestic abuse with free train journeys while keeping the railway running for all the people, communities and local economies that rely on it.” 

Survivors of domestic abuse who would like to access the scheme, or need other support, can get in touch with Women’s Aid through their Live Chat service, open Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 12:00pm: https://chat.womensaid.org.uk 

If you would like to contribute to help survivors access the lifesaving support they need and help them reach refuge, please make a donation today: www.womensaid.org.uk/rail-to-refuge (link goes live on 23 November 2020, 00.01).

Continue Reading

Trending