History of THAW Orkney

THAW Orkney was established as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation in December 2014 following two workshops involving community groups and statutory organisations. This came about because there was not a coordinated approach of available services to tackle domestic fuel poverty issues holistically in the county.

THAW began as the lead agency and pivotal point of a three-way partnership involving itself, Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau and Orkney Care and Repair, but through a wider forum established support of around 30 key individuals and organisations.

THAW has as its underlying principle that input from many national and local organisations may be available, but because accessing these potential dispersed resources
is left to the householder to arrange at the relevant time, they often do not materialise.

For many vulnerable householders to coordinate several organisational inputs is an impossible task and the assistance and resources available will not reach them. THAW’s approach coordinates these inputs in a non-linear manner so the maximum impact can be achieved for the benefit of the householder and thereby the most efficient use of resources by the relevant organisations. This approach, which we call the Pipeline Approach, is ‘in the background’ facilitating the relevant input at the relevant time.

Fundamental in the approach of the programme is that services are equally available to all Orkney residents. There is a strong emphasis on equalities and the inclusion of people from all protected characteristic groups namely: age; gender; ethnic origin; religion or belief; disability and sexual orientation. Essential in this is addressing the range of issues and barriers which have prevented people’s participation in social, economic, political and cultural life. 

THAW ​has secured funding in the past to provide Cosy Home Packs, with energy saving items, Electricity vouchers to support our clients, small installation funds to gap-fill repairs or maintenance on a property in order to ensure upgrade work is completed as well as larger grants for property upgrading and outreach for energy advise.

Further information on these initiatives can be found on our Projects page and details of our service can be found on the Services page.

British Gas Energy Trust Funded Project 2022 - 2024

THAW Orkney continued the project to assist the more vulnerable clients with the provision of a Community Support Officer (CSO), largely funded by the Robertson Trust through to mid 2024. The CSO in post assisted 131 clients during this year. Further funding to support this valuable project was secured from Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks Resilient Communities Fund in September 2021.

We were awarded funding through British Gas Energy Trust in 2022 to support combined energy and money advice services, in collaboration with Orkney CAB.

The project aims to continue THAW's bespoke service, in particular through the provision of emergency vouchers, energy efficiency measures, emergency heating systems, property assessments and money guidance.

THAW Orkney previously held an Affordable Warmth / Fuel Poverty workshop entitled 'Affordable Warmth: What's in the Pipeline?' in the Kirkwall Townhall on the 18th March 2015, in which many representatives of Statutory and Third Sector organisations attended.

The key note speaker was Norman Kerr, Director of Energy Action Scotland and Deputy Chair of the Scottish Government’s Fuel Poverty Forum.

From the start of this workshop, there has been overwhelming support for THAW to progress the development of the Pipeline Approach and we are now working closely with partnership organisations across Orkney, in order to achieve this goal. Please have a look at some of our links below if you would like to find out more information from the workshop.

The full workshop report can be viewed here:  affordable-warmth--whats-in-the-pipeline.pdf

The full presentations given at the workshop can also be viewed here:

Statistical Analysis - statistical-analysis.pdf
The national scene - the-national-scene.pdf
Case studies - case-studies.pdf
The pipeline approach - the-pipeline-approach.pdf

We are here to help support you. If you are finding it difficult to heat your home, struggling with debt or are looking for any further assistance with energy efficiency matters then we may be able to help you. 

Our dedicated team provide a bespoke service which can involve hand holding support if required. We can also advocate and act as a third party on your behalf. To date, we have assisted over 1,000 households since THAW first launched in January 2015.


Donate with JustGiving.Pay with Mastercard, Visa, American Express, PayPal, Bank Transfer, Apple Pay or Direct Debit.

Robertson Trust – Community Support 2021 - 2024

Orkney Money Matters Project 2023 - 2024

We secured British Gas Energy Trust funding to March 2022 to build on the momentum for community groups and statutory organisations to work collaboratively and collectively to address fuel poverty, social and financial exclusion issues.

The project aimed to enable households in Orkney to have warm homes, to improve their health and wellbeing, to help them to be able to pay for their bills, to maximise income and to support with debt management and budgeting advice. 

From October 2021 - March 2022, we also secured additional BGET innovation funding for a Homelessness Link Worker. This supported 35 households in emergency housing with bespoke, holistic support including free energy efficient appliances for food preparation and storage, 4G broadband access and energy monitors.

Affordable Warmth Project 2016 - 2017

THAW Orkney secured funding to deliver the Aiming Beyond Cancer Project, supporting those with a cancer diagnosis within the local community.

The project, which was funded by Energy Action Scotland and SSE, helped to provide financial assistance with the installation of a new/replacement heating system and/or white goods such as a washing machine or tumble dryer for people with an active cancer diagnosis who are supported by either CLAN or Macmillan.  In relation to heating systems, we supported with the installation through local contractors for Air to Air systems, Quantum Heaters and Oil systems.

THAW Orkney is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCO45272)

Orkney Money Matters (OMM) is a partnership project between local support organisations, funded by Orkney Islands Council, through its allocation of the Scottish Government’s Local Authority Covid Economic Recovery (LACER) fund. OMM aims to increase access to advice and cash-based support for anybody who is worried about money through funding new roles, developing closer ways of working, and by raising awareness of the support available. THAW has been funded for service continuity as well as additional funding for energy vouchers and larger scale energy efficiency installations.

Orkney Money Matters is hosted and coordinated by Voluntary Action Orkney. Its members include Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau, THAW Orkney, Orkney Blide Trust, Orkney Housing Association Limited, Orkney Charitable Trust, Orkney Foodbank, NHS Orkney, Orkney Islands Council and Social Security Scotland.

Aiming Beyond Cancer Project 2018 - 2022

Project timeline:


WellBeing Orkney Project 2017 - 2019

Affordable Warmth Workshop 2015



helping to make a difference

​THAW Orkney

Anchor Buildings, Bridge Street, Kirkwall,

KW15 1HR

United Kingdom

01856 878388

[email protected]

Introduction to THAW Orkney

British Gas Energy Trust Funded Project 2018 - 2022

Orkney’s Pipeline Partnership Approach

The Pipeline Approach is not a new concept but is new and innovative                                                                                         when applied to Affordable Warmth/Fuel Poverty.

The Problem:

The latest Scottish House Condition Survey statistics (2014) state that                                                                                currently 63% of Orkney households are fuel poor, rising to 85% for                                                                                         pension households.

Previously before our project, there had been no mechanism for collective planning and provision of support services to those in fuel poverty.

Energy efficiency programmes are often not accessible to the most vulnerable in society, either through a lack of confidence or skill levels or ill health or financial situation when a ‘client contribution’ is required. Additionally, most programmes have targeted the ‘low hanging fruit’ in urban areas of Scotland.

The Partnership Solution:

The partnership employed staff to develop and deliver a pipeline approach to tackling fuel poverty in Orkney in order that all stakeholders identify appropriate levels of support and plan the implementation of services of a client’s journey to affordable warmth.

The Pipeline Mechanism and the Beneficiaries:

Collaborating with local and national stakeholders, the project has helped to benefit fuel poor households, in particular those most vulnerable households that are historically hard to engage, by fostering a collective community responsibility to identify and refer households to Stage 1 of the Pipeline process.

THAW, the lead partner, employed 3.0 FTEs staff (manager, affordable warmth officer, administrator) to implement a case management system, to include an initial assessment process, the creation of client-specific action plans and bespoke “hand-holding” support services, which ensured that all clients received the necessary support at all stages throughout their Pipeline journey.

The staff team continuously reviewed each client’s action plan so that it was responsive to changing needs, thus avoiding slippage within the Pipeline.

Orkney CAB employed a 0.75 FTE fuel poverty support worker to provide Income maximisation support, benefit checks & applications, income & expenditure analysis, budgeting and grant applications; Information, education & behaviour changing, such as on and off-site tuition regarding fuel types & technologies and helping clients identify changes they can make in order to reduce energy consumption; Fuel cost support , such as assisting with price comparison & switching and understanding fuel bills & energy consumption.

Orkney Care & Repair also employed a 0.5 FTE technical support officer to provide a project management service for remedial / installation works carried out; Specialist knowledge to assist clients with understanding EPC, SAP & Green Deal assessments; Assessing and identifying remedial/installation works suitable to client needs & situation; Finance & grant applications; Identifying and project managing suitable contractors to carry out works; Identifying and accessing all available grants for installations in relation to energy efficiency measures, heating systems, insulation and related necessary property repairs prior to utilising the project’s installation monies of up to £3,500 per property.

THAW Orkney and its partners launched the Pipeline Approach as an Orkney-wide project. The total project award from the British Gas Energy Trust was a little under £400,000 with £175,000 allocated for installation costs of energy saving measures, property and heating repairs. In addition a further £88,750 was secured for installations from the Energy Action scotland initiative. The money was used as a ‘gap filler’ when other programme grants were exhausted, for example, when a client contribution is needed to complete an installation and the householder is unable to pay. This funding was succesfully utilised and ended in March 2017.

THAW’s primary objective is to eradicate fuel poverty within the Orkney Isles and believes it is the Pipeline Model, as a collaborating and co-ordinating model, that will best achieve this. As it is a new approach to tackling fuel poverty / affordable warmth it is intended that the project will also act as ‘proof of concept’ across all stakeholder organisations in Orkney as well as potential funders.

​Working in close partnership with Orkney Islands Council and the matched funding organisations, this project enabled us to provide bespoke support services to vulnerable individuals and families from the initial contact, throughout the process, to a resolution or agreed outcome. The project helped to provide on the ground assistance to households particularly those affected by debt, low income or fuel poverty in Orkney, that can sometimes feel excluded from mainstream support services.

We assisted over 650 households in Orkney during the two-year project and worked closely with Orkney Citizens Advice Bureau to engage with particularly vulnerable groups to develop skills among people who are often financially and/or socially excluded. The aim was to allow for improvements in their abilities to manage limited budgets and gradually lead to improvements in respect of reduced rent arrears, fuel poverty and levels of debt.

We had established reciprocal referral arrangements with a number of local

agencies and organisations to provide hand holding support. Fundamental in the

approach of the whole programme was that services were equally available to all

Orkney residents. There was a strong emphasis on equalities and the inclusion of

people from all protected characteristic groups namely: age; gender; ethnic origin;

religion or belief; disability and sexual orientation. Essential in this, was addressing

the range of issues and barriers which have prevented people’s participation in

social, economic, political and cultural life. ​