Tackling Household Affordable Warmth (THAW) Orkney is a charity, with the mission:
'To work for households in all Orkney communities to reduce levels of fuel poverty and achieve affordable warmth'
THAW Orkney was established as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation in December 2014 following two workshops involving community groups and statutory organisations. This aimed to coordinate available services to holistically tackle domestic fuel poverty issues.
THAW began as the lead agency and pivotal point of a three-way partnership involving Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau and Orkney Care and Repair, with a wider forum of around 30 key individuals and organisations.
THAW has as its underlying principle that input from many national and local organisations may be available, but because it is left to the householder to arrange access to these dispersed resources at relevant times, they often do not materialise.
Coordinating several organisational inputs is an impossible task for many vulnerable householders and assistance and resources do not reach them. THAW’s approach coordinates these inputs in a non-linear manner so the maximum impact can be achieved for the benefit of the householder and thereby the most efficient use of resources by the relevant organisations.
This approach, which we call the Pipeline Approach, is ‘in the background’ facilitating the relevant input at the relevant time. Fundamental in the approach of the programme is that services are equally available to all Orkney residents. There is a strong emphasis on equalities and the inclusion of people from all protected characteristic groups. Essential in this is addressing the range of issues and barriers which have prevented people’s participation in social, economic, political and cultural life.
THAW Orkney previously held an Affordable Warmth / Fuel Poverty workshop entitled 'Affordable Warmth: What's in the Pipeline?' in the Kirkwall Townhall on the 18th March 2015, in which many representatives of Statutory and Third Sector organisations attended.
The key note speaker was Norman Kerr, Director of Energy Action Scotland and Deputy Chair of the Scottish Government’s Fuel Poverty Forum.
From the start of this workshop, there has been overwhelming support for THAW to progress the development of the Pipeline Approach and we are now working closely with partnership organisations across Orkney, in order to achieve this goal. Please have a look at some of our links below if you would like to find out more information from the workshop.
Our first project introduced the use of the Pipeline Approach. This is not a new concept but was innovative when applied to Affordable Warmth/Fuel Poverty. Prior to the project there had been no mechanism for collective planning and provision of support services to those in fuel poverty.
Energy efficiency programmes are difficult to access for the most vulnerable in society, either due to a lack of confidence, low skill levels, ill health or a limited ability to provide a ‘client contribution’. In addition, most programmes target the ‘low hanging fruit’ of urban areas or easy to treat properties.
THAW, the lead partner, employed 3.0 FTEs staff (manager, affordable warmth officer, administrator) to implement a case management system, an initial assessment process, creation of client action plans and “hand-holding” support services, which ensured that all clients received the necessary support at all stages throughout their Pipeline journey. The staff team continuously reviewed each client’s action plan so that it was responsive to changing needs, thus avoiding slippage within the Pipeline.
Orkney CAB employed a 0.75 FTE fuel poverty support worker to provide Income maximisation support, benefit checks & applications, income & expenditure analysis, budgeting and grant applications.
Orkney Care & Repair also employed a 0.5 FTE technical support officer to provide project management of contractors for remedial / installation works and related finance & grant applications, including utilising the project’s installation monies of up to £3,500 per property.
The total project award from the British Gas Energy Trust was a little under £400,000 with £175,000 allocated for installation costs of energy saving measures, property and heating repairs. In addition a further £88,750 was secured for ‘gap-filler’ installations from the Energy Action scotland initiative.
Working in close partnership with Orkney Islands Council and Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau, this two-year project assisted over 650 households in Orkney, in particular to develop skills among people who are often financially and/or socially excluded.
The project established reciprocal referral arrangements with a number of local agencies and organisations to provide hand holding support. Fundamental in the approach of the whole programme was that services were equally available to all Orkney residents. There was a strong emphasis on equalities and the inclusion of people from all protected characteristic groups, particularly to address the range of issues and barriers which prevented people’s participation in social, economic, political and cultural life.
THAW Orkney secured funding to deliver the Aiming Beyond Cancer Project, supporting those with a cancer diagnosis within the local community.
The project, which was funded by Energy Action Scotland and SSE, helped to provide financial assistance with the installation of a new/replacement heating system and/or white goods such as a washing machine or tumble dryer for people with an active cancer diagnosis who are supported by either CLAN or Macmillan.
In relation to heating systems, we supported with the installation through local contractors for Air to Air systems, Quantum Heaters and Oil systems.
In 2023 this became the ‘Live Well’ project and widened participation to anyone with a life-limiting illness.
We secured British Gas Energy Trust funding to March 2022 to build on the momentum for community groups and statutory organisations to work collaboratively and collectively to address fuel poverty, social and financial exclusion issues.
The project aimed to enable households in Orkney to have warm homes, to improve their health and wellbeing, to help them to be able to pay for their bills, to maximise income and to support with debt management and budgeting advice.
From October 2021 - March 2022, we also secured additional BGET innovation funding for a Homelessness Link Worker. This supported 35 households in emergency housing with bespoke, holistic support including free energy efficient appliances for food preparation and storage, 4G broadband access and energy monitors.
BGET funding had initially been expected to continue through 2022, but was unexpectedly withdrawn due to changes to distribution of the government’s Warm Homes Discount. During summer 2022, THAW was unfunded and reduced to a skeleton staff, without a manager, thus relying on voluntary management support by board members.
From Oct 2022-2024 THAW was awarded funding through British Gas Energy Trust to support combined energy and money advice services, in collaboration with Orkney CAB. The project aimed to continue THAW's bespoke service, in particular through the provision of emergency vouchers, energy efficiency measures, emergency heating systems, property assessments and money guidance.
THAW Orkney continued the project to assist the more vulnerable clients with the provision of a Community Support Officer (CSO), largely funded by the Robertson Trust through to mid 2024. The CSO in post assisted 131 clients during this year. Further funding to support this valuable project was secured from Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks Resilient Communities Fund in September 2021.
This project employed staff at THAW, CAB and The Blide Trust to provide bespoke support for clients struggling with low income and costs of living. The project included a large fund for electricity support and a smaller fund for repair and installation. It was awarded follow-on funding from the ScotGov Cash-First fund to continue development into 2025.
Energy Support Advisor
Energy Support Advisor
Energy Support Advisor
Energy Support Advisor
Energy Outreach Officer
Innovation & Development Lead
Facilities & Administration Officer