Community Energy Plus News

Cornwall Council wins partnership funding for Winter Wellness campaign to help reduce winter deaths

Press release issued by Cornwall Council

A Cornwall Council and Council of the Isles of Scilly led bid has won over £140,000 from the Department of Health’s Warm Homes Healthy People fund for a campaign called Winter Wellness aimed at reducing preventable winter deaths.

Each year, more than 300 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are believed to die needlessly as a result of cold homes and freezing winter weather.

Partners including NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Age UK Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly., Community Energy Plus, Citizens Advice Bureau, Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum, Truro Homeless Action Group, Home Improvement Agencies, St Petrocs, Cornwall Drug and Alcohol Team, New Connection and the Council’s housing and adult care and support teams will be mounting the Winter Wellness campaign to reduce the number of winter deaths.

The campaign will offer a Winter Wellbeing Guide and targeted advice to vulnerable people on how to alleviate fuel poverty; raise awareness of the risks of low temperatures and high humidity in homes and encourage take up of grants available for insulation and heating.

The project will also provide money for a Winter Wellness Fund; an emergency fund to provide immediate help and warmth to vulnerable people, and increased provision of emergency housing and emergency Keep Warm Packs.

Cornwall Council cabinet member for health and well being Carolyn Rule said: “This is a great example of community and voluntary organisations coming together with the public sector to offer a joined up approach to a big issue. The funding is very welcome indeed as it will help all the agencies involved target support to those in most need and at most risk. By working together, frontline workers and volunteers will have systems in place to make sure that vulnerable people are directed to the service most able to help them.”

Felicity Owen, Director of Public Health for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, said: “Preventing illness and unnecessary deaths from cold weather is a priority for us. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have high levels of fuel poverty and over the last three years there have been 994 unnecessary deaths from cold homes. This national funding is a welcome addition to the money the NHS and Cornwall Council find locally each year to subsidise the Warm Front scheme to ensure the full cost of insulating homes is covered for those in most need.”

Cornwall Council cabinet member for housing Mark Kaczmarek said: “This funding is great news as it will help provide emergency accommodation for the homeless at St Petrocs over and above the emergency provision already in place during really severe weather. It will also target help to vulnerable people who live in park home or in private rented accommodation to make sure they are aware of and have access to all the help available.”

Cllr Mike Hicks, Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “We are pleased to have secured this funding to help to protect the more vulnerable members of our community in cold weather. The islands have the worst level of fuel poverty in the country, partly as a result of the high cost of access to solid fuel. This joint project with Cornwall marks the beginning of the work that needs to take place to make sure that islanders can afford to keep their homes warm.”

The project will provide a comprehensive package of advice and guidance for vulnerable people at risk of preventable excess winter deaths and morbidity due to cold, damp living conditions. This will provide direct immediate help to at-risk individuals this winter.

Project activities will include:    

  • A co-ordinated multi agency approach to enquiries relating to cold, damp housing, utilising the existing infrastructure including the Community Energy Plus advice centre.
  • Cross-referral mechanisms between frontline workers to ensure vulnerable clients receive coordinated support.
  • Free, impartial advice for older and vulnerable people regarding cold, damp and mould. Provision of hygrometers and thermometer cards to support behaviour change. Assistance with insulation and heating grants. Specialist advice and support for vulnerable occupants of Park Homes and private rented accommodation.
  • A coordinated marketing/ public health campaign and on-line resource regarding winter health.
  • Provision of Winter Well Being Guide
  • Get Well Stay Well: team of volunteers working with vulnerable people to enable them to live independently.
  • Stay Plugged In – CAB led work to address risks associated with falls, heating, diet, etc.  Also advice regarding fuel debt, repayment negotiation and income maximization.
  • Working in partnership with St Petrocs to ensure the homeless have a roof over their head during cold winter nights and are supported to access health services and secure long term housing solutions. 
  • Winter Summit with VCS, business and public sector to develop plan for 2012/13.  
  • Winter Wellness Fund – emergency fund to provide immediate help with warmth for vulnerable people.
  • The Handyperson Services and Home Improvement Agencies will ensure that the elderly and disabled are kept safe and warm during the winter by providing Keep Warm Boxes, clearing snow from paths and undertaking free home safety checks.