Behind the scenes

British Gas Energy Trust awards six figure grant to Big Issue

The Big Issue has been awarded a grant of more than £163,000 to provide vital money and energy advice to members of the Roma community struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

The funding has been provided by the British Gas Energy Trust – an independent charitable trust that supports families and individuals facing financial hardship and energy debt, directly and through local and national money and energy advice services and charities.

Big Issue’s vision is to create innovative solutions, to unlock social and economic opportunity for the 14.5m people in the UK living in poverty to earn, learn and thrive. This work is essential, now more than ever, due to the ongoing cost of living crisis impacting Big Issue vendors – 100% of which face poverty daily.

With the grant money from the British Gas Energy Trust, the Big Issue will be able to make a real difference to the lives of 500 Roma individuals and their families, over the next 18 months, through the introduction of a specialist Roma energy and finance support hub to reach this marginalised community. This funding will allow the Big Issue to boost its services, ensuring vendors experiencing the most complex barriers, can access the help they need.

This new bespoke service will provide an immediate response to members of the Roma community directly and significantly impacted by the energy cost crisis, while helping them to address wider financial issues and build longer term financial resilience and integration. Tailored energy and money advice will be available over the phone or at fortnightly in-person drop-in sessions, in Birmingham and London.

A recent consultation with Roma Big Issue vendors found extremely low levels of literacy and numeracy in addition to a disenfranchisement from main-stream infrastructure – leading to exclusion from key services, high poverty levels, and a concentration of people living in over-crowded, poor quality housing without routine access to basic essentials.

Spokesperson for Big Issue, said: “We are grateful to be working alongside the British Gas Energy Trust and its other grantees during this very challenging external environment. This support will ensure that those furthest away from understanding and accessing support can get the help they desperately need, to keep the lights on, cook a warm meal, and heat their homes over the next 18 months. Inclusion is at the forefront of our mission and this support will enable us to work together with a marginalised group of individuals to bring them closer to their community and the support available.”

Jessica Taplin, CEO of the British Gas Energy Trust, added: “The rising cost of living means more people are experiencing financial difficulty for the first time, and are struggling to pay their bills. Whether you’re with British Gas or another energy supplier, it’s important to know that there is help available to you.

“You can apply to us for a direct grant or access financial support and advice via the charities and projects whose vital work we help to fund. Accessing credible advice from the right places is critical – and that’s why a dedicated, bespoke service is needed to overcome low literacy levels and the language barrier in the Roma community.”

Since the start of the cost-of-living crisis, Centrica – the parent company of British Gas – has put together a support package for households worth more than £25m, which will continue to grow. This funding includes 18-month grants paid to more than 20 advice centres and charities across England, Scotland and Wales, including The Big Issue.

For more information about the British Gas Energy Trust, to find out about the support that’s available, and to apply for a grant, visit https://britishgasenergytrust.org.uk/.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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