Cyclists Gear Up for 6 Nations Challenge

The Wales Team have thrown their support behind Shelter Cymru’s Ride to the Rugby Challenge for 2015. Internationals Luke Charteris and Dan Lydiate took time out from training for the Autumn Series to meet some of the cyclists.

In February 2014, 35 cyclists raised £50,000 for Shelter Cymru by cycling between the Millennium Stadium and the Aviva Stadium.

Once again Ride to the Rugby Team Captain is Wales and British Lions forward Colin Charvis and riders will also be joined by another former Wales International and Grand Slam winner Haldane Luscombe. Colin and Haldane will be leading a party of nearly 70 cyclists across to France.

Ride to the Rugby Team Captain Colin Charvis said:

“This season’s event promises to be bigger and better than last, and what an adventure that was! I’m proud to be associated with Shelter Cymru once more. Hopefully the team can raise vital funds for the organisation whilst enjoying the journey and ultimately the match. Paris here we come.”

Wales second row Luke Charteris said:

“The 6 Nations is a very special competition and takes on even more significance in World Cup year. The cyclists went through some very tough conditions to get to Ireland last year and the whole squad is appreciative of their efforts to get to the game in France. We will be going all out to make sure they see a Welsh win. At the same time to be raising so much money to help families across Wales find and keep a home, Shelter Cymru is a charity we are proud to support.”

Andrew Jones, Shelter Cymru’s Fundraising Manager, said:

“Demand for our services continues to increase at a time when funding is ever more difficult to secure. Ride to the Rugby has captured the imagination and brought Shelter Cymru to a new audience. Getting everyone to Paris will be a great adventure but after the success of Dublin something we are all very much looking forward to.”

Sam Seward, Managing Director of Gullivers Sports Travel, said:

“Shelter Cymru helps vulnerable people in crisis and at Gullivers we are delighted to be supporting this valuable and hugely worthwhile cause. As Official Travel Supplier to the Welsh Rugby Union, we’re looking forward to coming together with thousands of our customers and other rugby fans to welcome the cyclists at the Stade de France.”

The Ride to the Rugby is a challenging four day cycle ride between Cardiff and Paris, arriving in time for kick off for France v Wales at the Stade de France. In potentially difficult weather conditions cyclists will complete nearly 300 miles and have been asked to raise as much money as possible for Shelter Cymru with a minimum target of £1,500.

Shelter Cymru is very grateful to the companies that are supporting the event and in particular Nation Radio, which will be providing on air updates throughout the Challenge, Gulliver’s Sports Travel for assisting with logistics in France, and Creigiau Travel, which will be providing daily support and bringing the cyclists home.

Caroline’s story

Things started to go wrong for Caroline after she was diagnosed with MS. A single mother with two children, she worked as a carer until she was forced to give up due to ill health. Despite the recommendations from her GP and hospital specialists, Caroline was found fit to work by the DWP medical assessment. As a result, her sickness benefit stopped and she fell into debt.

“Physically I lost weight as I couldn’t afford to eat. On several occasions I went several days without food. I had some help from food banks but you can’t have more than three vouchers. On one occasion I went four days without hot water as I had no money for gas. I had to sacrifice my car – I couldn’t afford to run it. This meant it was difficult to get out of the house, especially on the days when my legs were bad. I was just stuck in the house constantly. I think it would have helped me to cope with my health problems better if I had been able to see friends socially but there was no way I could go out with no money. My rent arrears continually went up … I couldn’t afford to pay the shortfall – I ended up in court where I was afraid of being evicted. It was very stressful and the stress of it made me even more ill.”

Caroline contacted Shelter Cymru for support and was put in touch with Suzanne, her local adviser. Suzanne has worked for Shelter Cymru for nine years.

Suzanne is our Housing Support Worker in Flintshire and has worked for Shelter Cymru for nine years.

“With Caroline, her illness made her extremely vulnerable, having to give up work not only increased the financial pressure on her and her family but also had an impact on her mental wellbeing. She simply couldn’t make ends meet. Facing potential homelessness at this point was the final straw and she felt so low that at times she felt that she couldn’t face the future.”

Suzanne has been working with Caroline and her family for two years, helping Caroline deal with her welfare benefit issues, her rent arrears and financial management, getting her back to work and supporting her with her health problems and mental wellbeing.

“I am so pleased Caroline is now feeling well enough to be doing permitted work (which is designed to support people to get off benefits and back into employment). Caroline was embarrassed to be on benefits but she like many others had no choice. Being back in work has made a huge difference both financially and mentally to Caroline. Although she is still suffering from MS, she can now look after her family again, something every mum wants to be able to do.”

“I don’t know how I would have coped on my own. The way the support has been delivered has been great – home visits were perfect for me as I know I wouldn’t have been able to get to appointments when I was feeling so low. I really don’t know what I would have done without Shelter Cymru’s support.”

Caroline and her family are unfortunately not alone. Family break ups, job loss, sudden illness, debt, the list of reasons why a family falls into rent or mortgage arrears is endless but the result is often the same, that their home is put at risk.

That’s where we come in. Every day, we work with families at risk of losing their homes.

Please help us this Christmas to support more families across Wales at risk of losing their homes by donating to us today.

British Gas Energy Trust to fund Wrexham debt advice service

A Wrexham-based debt advice service that was facing closure has been thrown a lifeline thanks to a new partnership with the British Gas Energy Trust. 

The existing debt advice service run by Shelter Cymru has been under threat due to funding cuts, but will now but will now be supported by the British Gas Energy Trust as part of a national partnership between British Gas and Shelter in England, Scotland and Wales.

The service was launched in Wrexham by Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, on Friday 7 November.

The Minister said: “I want to ensure everybody in Wales, especially the most vulnerable, have access to the support they need to overcome financial problems and cope with the impact of welfare reform.

“The new partnership is a significant milestone for Shelter Cymru, which will enable them to build upon the successful debt advice service they have provided in the area for many years. This new service will play a vital role in providing trusted advice and preventing homelessness.”

The debt advice service will tackle the root causes of homelessness, money problems and fuel poverty, helping local people to clear their debts and get back on their feet.

The British Gas Energy Trust is a charity funded solely by British Gas, which has donated £75 million to it over the past 10 years to help 120,000 households. The Trust is open to everyone in need, regardless of whether they are British Gas customers.

Established in 2004, the Trust funds over 50 specialist energy debt advisers across the UK, like the Wrexham based service, based in the heart of communities to offer help to those struggling to pay their energy and other household bills.

The debt advisers talk to people individually and confidentially about their personal circumstances to understand their problems and give face-to-face advice.

The Trust can also provide grants to clear energy debts, to purchase energy efficient household appliances like fridges, cookers and washing machines, or to fix or replace a boiler.

Janet Loudon, Head of Operations at Shelter Cymru, said: “Our debt advice service has helped hundreds of people to deal with money problems over the last few years so the prospect of losing it was a real worry.

“We know that getting independent advice can make a huge difference and prevent problems escalating to crisis point. This new funding means that we will be able to build on the valuable service we’ve established and ensure that we are there for people who are struggling with debt and other financial worries.”

British Gas joined forces with Shelter in 2012 in a five-year partnership to work together for better homes for Britain. Their shared ambition is to improve one million homes in the private rented sector.

Christine Tate, Head of Corporate Responsibility for British Gas, said: “Last year the British Gas Energy Trust’s advisers in Wales helped 1500 households who were struggling with debt. Working with Shelter Cymru to deliver face-to-face advice in Wrexham will benefit the community and give real support where it is needed most, helping more local people to move on with their lives.”

Debt advice surgeries will held at a range of community venues in and around Wrexham. Call 01978 317911 for more information.

Notes

British Gas and Shelter
British Gas and Shelter joined forces in 2012 as part of a five year partnership to help tackle the problem of poor quality private rented homes in Britain. The partnership will tackle five key areas: safety, warmth, landlord advice, renter advice and standards.

British Gas
British Gas is the UK’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 12 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to one million UK businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Home Services expertise in the country. Find out more at www.britishgas.co.uk.

The British Gas Energy Trust (BGET)
The first nationwide trust of its kind in the UK, BGET is funded solely by British Gas, which has donated £75 million to the charity over the past 10 years to help 120,000 people to clear their debts and get back on their feet.

Established in 2004 to help individuals and families facing fuel poverty, the Trust offers support which includes grants to clear energy debts, to purchase energy efficient household appliances like fridges, cookers and washing machines, or to fix or replace a boiler.

The Trust also funds over 50 specialist energy debt advisors across the UK, based in the heart of communities to offer help to those struggling to pay their energy and other household bills. The advisors talk to people individually and confidentially about their personal circumstances to understand their problems and give tailored advice and support.

The Trust is open to everyone, regardless of whether they are British Gas customers. It is governed by a Board of independent Trustees.

In 2013 BGET made nearly 12,000 (11,771) awards, totalling £7.3 million. Over 9,000 awards were made to clear energy debt and over 2,500 awards were for further assistance eg white goods etc. The average grant in 2013 was £618.