15th December 2014
It is a shocking fact that around 350 elderly people could die this winter in Suffolk because of the cold and it is reckoned that nationally 200 older people in the UK die of cold every day throughout the winter.
Well, help is at hand to keep Suffolk people warm this winter thanks to the county’s Warm Homes Healthy People scheme, which makes it cheaper for vulnerable people and families to stay warm over the colder months.Keeping warm in the colder weather is essential not just to protect people from the risks of hypothermia but to prevent colds, flu and more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and the consequences of falls.
My colleague, retired vascular surgeon, County Councillor Alan Murray, cabinet member for health and adult care says, “There are around 350 excess deaths each winter in Suffolk and many could be prevented by keeping homes sufficiently insulated and warm. The Warm Homes Healthy People project is an excellent example of how we can work together in Suffolk to support vulnerable people over the colder months. Since its launch in 2011, Warm Homes Healthy People has gone from strength to strength and I am confident will continue to deliver invaluable support to keep people warm and well.”
The project provides the following for eligible residents in Suffolk:
Making fuel payments to the heating supplier
Loaning electric heaters and carrying out assessments for financial assistance towards the cost of heating repairs or replacements
Arranging for an independent surveyor to visit the home to discuss energy efficiency improvements that could make a real difference to heating bills
Providing access to grants and interest free loans to help pay for insulation and basic draught proofing
Project Manager Teresa Howarth says, “We often find people who just don’t know how to get help, who have been swamped by leaflets and cold calls offering them new boilers and insulation but who feel vulnerable to being ripped off by unscrupulous sales people. They ration their heat to try and keep bills manageable and as a result become victims of the cold and their health deteriorates.
Our scheme aims to offer advice and practical solutions, supported by someone on the end of a phone line to help or advise and a home visit when needed. We aim not to leave anyone out in the cold.
Warm Homes Healthy People aims to reach those most in need of support. The following eligibility criteria applies:
Those aged 60 or above or households including children under 5
Household income below £17,000pa and savings below £5,000
Households including someone with a long term health condition or disability
Since the project launched in 2011, Warm Homes Healthy People has provided the following:
Almost 2,400 free home energy efficiency surveys which provide residents with the opportunity to get free impartial advice from a trusted source. The home surveyor will be able to provide advice on insulation improvements that could be made such as top up loft insulation and arrange for basic draught proofing and loft clearance if necessary free of charge.
Over 850 fuel payments, paid directly to the householder’s energy company
More than 1,300 insulation referrals
Supporting 134 households with a grant towards the cost of heating repairs or replacements
The project is provided in partnership between Suffolk County Council, district and borough councils in Suffolk and a range of voluntary and not for profit organisations.
To self-refer to the project, eligible Suffolk residents can contact 0845 037 686 for free advice and support. GPs and other health professionals can refer people by secure email email@example.com