Funding boost to help keep people safe during cold weather

Vulnerable people across Warwickshire are to get more help and support during cold weather, following a successful bid for a share of the Government’s Warm Homes Healthy People fund.

In Warwickshire more than 270 people die each year as a result of not keeping warm.

Warwickshire’s Affordable Warmth Group has recently been awarded £68,640 which will be used to run a number of schemes to help those at risk, including older people and those with long term conditions, to keep warm and safe and prevent them from needing to go to hospital.

The  Affordable Warmth Group was set up two years ago to tackle the issue of fuel poverty, and members include Warwickshire’s County, District and Borough Councils, NHS Warwickshire, Act on Energy, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and voluntary organisations including Age UK.

The extra funding means the group can build upon its existing work and invest in initiatives including:

  • Practical aids such as thermo-cards which display the temperature in the home and offer information and advice on keeping warm and well
  • A rural community project which will target those living in the most isolated areas
  • A targeted benefits checks service to ensure that those in need are receiving all the funding that they are entitled to
  • Investment in a central referral scheme so that vulnerable people and those acting on their behalf are helped to access information and advice to obtain support 
  • Training for community groups and volunteers (in addition to health, housing and social care staff) who come into contact with vulnerable people

County Councillor Claire Watson, Chair of Warwickshire’s Affordable Warmth Working Group, said:  “Cold weather can pose a significant threat to vulnerable people. This additional government funding will help us to strengthen the resources available to people in Warwickshire both this winter and next.”

She added: “We all have a role to play and what’s good about this investment is that we can work more closely with communities and individuals.”

Helen King, Deputy Director of Public Health at NHS Warwickshire, said: “Keeping warm is a vitally important part of staying healthy over the winter, particularly for vulnerable or elderly people. Family, friends and neighbours also have a part to play and should keep an eye on people they think might be at risk by checking their homes are warm enough, that they wrap up well and that they are eating at least one hot meal a day. We welcome any additional funding that can help us to prevent avoidable deaths caused by very cold weather.” 

A freephone helpline has been set up in Warwickshire to help vulnerable and older people keep warm and well. The freephone number 0800 988 2881 is available from Monday to Friday from 9.00am – 5.00pm to ensure people receive help and advice during periods of cold weather including: 

  • How to keep you and your home warm
  • How to reduce fuel bills by improving the energy efficiency of your home
  • What to do if you’re worried about your fuel bills and you need debt advice and assistance
  • What to do if you heating system breaks down

A special Warm and Well leaflet is also available which highlights a number of simple steps to follow:

• Keep internal doors closed to stop draughts
• Have at least one hot meal and hot drinks throughout the day
• Layer up – many layers of clothing are best
• Close curtains at dusk
• Ensure your heating is 21°C in your home
• Keep your heating on overnight
• Ensure your home is well insulated and your boiler is serviced
• Contact your energy supplier about social tariffs or priority register schemes.

Residents can visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/keepwarm for more information and to download the Winter Warmth Leaflet.