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Partnership to Tackle Fuel Poverty Among Kidney Patients

Wales & West Utilities is embarking on a new £2.5 million partnership to offer specialist support to help people living with kidney failure.

Across the UK there are 30,074 people – 29,135 adults and 939 children – with advanced kidney disease who rely on dialysis to stay alive. Almost 1,800 of these are in Wales.

Most have a routine of three to four sessions of dialysis a week, each taking up to six hours or more in hospital.

Due to the time constraints and health impacts associated with treatment for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), only 26% of people on dialysis are in full time employment.

Now Wales & West Utilities is set to work with Kidney Care UK on a partnership which will see them provide support to help tackle fuel poverty.

The initial two-year project will provide a holistic suite of services, including face-to-face support, where patients will get assistance with benefit entitlement, welfare support and specialist money and energy advice. The service will also promote energy and carbon monoxide awareness.

The project follows the success of The Kidney Support and Welfare Wales project which launched last year. It saw Wales & West Utilities work with Kidney Care UK and NHS health boards across Wales to provide free, impartial guidance and support around welfare. More than 600 patients have been supported by the new service, including welfare and benefits checks for 259 people, resulting in £115,870 in financial gains.

The expansion of Kidney Care UK’s patient support services will mean that people on dialysis will have access to a dedicated, personal, face-to-face support service. Delivered by trained and trusted Patient Support & Advocacy Officers, the service will enable patients to access all the benefits and welfare support they are entitled to.

Laurie Cuthbert, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications at Kidney Care UK, said:

“We are pleased to be working with Wales & West Utilities to support almost 1,800 vulnerable kidney patients who are in immediate need of support. Philanthropic investment from our partners is enabling Kidney Care UK to increase its direct, on-the-ground support to thousands of dialysis patients, delivering tangible welfare and wellbeing benefits at a time when it is more important than ever.”

Sophie Shorney, VCMA Manager at Wales & West Utilities, said:

“We are delighted that the initial project positively impacted so many kidney failure patients in Wales and that we have been able to lead this project and take it further to provide specialist support to other patients across the UK.

“Alongside the other gas distribution networks we are proud to be supporting Kidney Care UK in delivering energy-related welfare advice and support to people with chronic kidney disease. This initiative provides a real opportunity to improve the quality of life for people with kidney disease and we hope that this unique partnership will continue to impact many of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities across the UK.”

Between April 2021 and March 2026 Wales & West Utilities has £25 million to spend on projects which support consumers in vulnerable situations and raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Funding is distributed through the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA), and 75% of the money will be spent on projects relevant to Wales and south west England only, while 25% will be spent on collaborative projects with the other gas networks across the whole of the UK.

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