Verbund Stromhilfefonds der Caritas

1,000 Euro Prize 2010

Country: Austria

Region: Vienna

Sector: Civil Society / Social Economy

Fields of action: Poverty, Adult education

Project owner: Caritas Österreich und Verbund

Responsible person: Beate McGinn

Website: Weblink

What is it about?
An Electricity Assistance Fund, which is supplied by Verbund, has existed since November 2009 in order to assist financially needy households, irrespective of whether they are Verbund customers or not, via Caritas’ 33 social counselling centres, to get out of the ‘energy trap’ – disproportionately high energy costs on low incomes: on-the-spot professional energy counselling, if necessary free replacement of devices and interim financial aid for electricity bills. Energy counselling is the heart of the project and the prerequisite for the additional benefits. The current fund partners from the household appliance and electrical goods sector are to be joined by others, in order to extend the financial aid to heating costs as well (gas, oil, coal) and other energy saving measures.
Appreciation of the Jury
Long-term cooperation between the profit and non-profit sectors combines emergency financial aid with help to produce a lasting change in behaviour. Energy counsellors go to people’s homes, carry out an analysis and, together, they come up with energy-saving measures. Replacement of devices and interim aid for electricity bills is included if necessary. This project has a high threshold – money is not simply handed out – but it is effective. Energy-saving behaviour is an economic necessity. The success – of the energy counselling and of the cooperation between Verbund and Caritas – is checked after a year. In addition, other (energy) companies are to be involved in the project. May the project continue to ‘spark’ success!