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Christian charities support growing Fuel Bank project

by Aaron James

The Trussell Trust joined forces with npower, National Energy Action (NEA) and the Durham Christian Partnership to trial the Fuel Bank scheme which sees foodbank users with pre-payment meters giving two weeks' worth of vouchers to pay for energy.

More than 7,000 vouchers have been distributed since the Fuel Bank pilot was launched last April in Kingston on Thames, Durham, Gloucestershire and the Wirral.

Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Hastings and Sheffield are among ten new areas to be included in the Fuel Bank initiative over the coming weeks.

The first client of a new npower Fuel Bank is opening its doors at Brent Foodbank on Tuesday.

Foodbanks in the UK*

- Trussell Trust has 424 foodbanks

- It distributed 1.1m emergency food packages (April 2015-16)

- An 2% increase in demand compared to April 2014-15

*The Trussell Trust

Marie (not her real name), said: "I know a lot of women, like me, that have got to either pay for gas, electricity, the rent, or food.

"You don't want to live in darkness, so you just go without heat. Without the voucher, we'd be even worse off."

Guy Esnouf, npower's Director of Corporate Responsibility, said expanding the Fuel Bank scheme would enable them the reach thousands more people facing a crisis.

Alison Inglis-Jones, from the Trussell Trust, said: "7000 vouchers have been handed out, so people may be coming one or more times.

"We've had some remarkable stories of people who are going through crisis now back up on their feet again, but what it's meant is that they can help their families heat and eat."

David McAuley, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, added: "Across the Trussell Trust foodbank network, we are seeing a real need all-year round for help with energy as well as food.

"It's heart-breaking when people in desperate situations try to give back food like pasta and soup simply because they can't afford to cook it.

"Combining the distribution of food parcels with npower Fuelbank vouchers will ensure that many thousands of people at foodbanks get the help they need to feed themselves and stay warm.

"We are very grateful to npower for working with us on this ground breaking project, we know it will have a positive impact on people facing crisis in the UK today."

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