An organisation that gives a vital helping hand to people struggling with their fuel bills has received high praise from Morpeth’s MP.
During a visit to the DAWN Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in the town centre, Ian Lavery found out more about its energy advice project.
The scheme, which is funded by the British Gas Energy Trust, is dedicated to supporting people in fuel poverty.
Fuel debt advisers will negotiate with energy suppliers and other firms to help resolve energy debt problems and assist with bankruptcy and debt relief order fees.
They will also help with grant bids to the Energy Trust to clear electricity and gas bills and with water rates as well as applying for white goods and a supply of 500 litres of oil for those not on the gas network.
The DAWN CAB delivers a range of services and Mr Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, met staff and volunteers across its departments.
He said: “I’m impressed by just how much support the CAB provides on behalf of, in the main, vulnerable people.
“Many of those experiencing difficult times have been given help with their electricity and gas bills, irrespective of the supplier, and it’s an absolute credit to the people who work here and the volunteers who put in a lot of effort.
“Hopefully, people who know about DAWN’s services will highlight them to others in their community.”
The CAB in Morpeth became part of DAWN in 2009 and last autumn, the organisation moved all of its operations into one building in Bridge Street (it was previously used as a county council customer information centre).
The other areas covered by its advisers include benefits, employment, housing and discrimination and it also helps to run the Northumberland Emergency Transition Support on behalf of the council. The advice is free, independent and confidential .
CEO Michael Fawole said: “Many of those who meet our criteria for assistance say that once they pay their energy bills, they don’t have enough money for food and vice versa.
“Moving to new premises has given us a greater visible presence in the town and it’s much better for the staff to have our impartial advice services all under one roof.”
A family law advice section started last year after changes to the legal aid system of funding and DAWN chair Paul Hillier said it is making a big difference as it provides an affordable service.