Community Energy Plus News

NICE recommendations to tackle cold homes – Cornwall already leading the way

Community Energy Plus, the charity which is one of the lead delivery partners of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s Winter Wellbeing Programme, has welcomed guidelines published today which call for a referral network to help tackle deaths and illnesses caused by cold homes.

NICE, the National Institute of Care and Health Excellence, have recommended that each council area should have a single-point-of-contact referral system, so that organisations in contact with vulnerable people have a quick and easy way to get help for someone who needs it to make their home warmer.

Dr Tim Jones, Chief Executive of Community Energy Plus, highlighted how Cornwall is already leading the way by delivering one of the NICE’s key recommendations: “Though Cornwall’s Winter Wellbeing programme, vulnerable people who are at risk of poor health from living in cold homes are already able to receive advice, grants and services from a partnership of almost thirty local organisations by calling our Freephone advice service. We’ve helped more than 2,700 households over the past four years to achieve warmer healthier homes so we’re delighted that our pioneering approach is now being recommended as best practice for the rest of the country.”

Through Winter Wellbeing targeted support is aimed at those most at risk, identified through referrals from sources such as GPs, clinical teams, volunteers, carers, job centres, social services, pharmacies and our partners. Providing fuel poverty awareness training for frontline workers helps to ensure that some of the most vulnerable members of our community are encouraged to engage with the project and get the help they need.

Stuart Bourne, Acting Director of Public Health for Cornwall Council and Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: ‘Cold homes and Fuel Poverty cause an estimated 350 deaths a year locally and many more people are made ill by living in a home that is too cold. Public Health support for the innovative, multiple intervention approach has helped bring households back from crisis point. Winter Wellbeing has proved itself to be an effective way of co-ordinating the delivery of services from multiple agencies, providing immediate relief for vulnerable householders living in cold homes as well as long lasting changes to help reduce fuel poverty, improve health and progress people back to work.”

Jeremy Rowe, Chair of Cornwall Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “It is great to see that Cornwall Council and its partners who have been working over the past three winters to help reduce the risks to vulnerable people of a cold home are already delivering the recommendation from NICE. We have been able to continue and expand the excellent partnership working that has been put in place.”

Cornwall’s Winter Wellbeing service can be accessed through a freephone number, 0800 954 1956, operated by Community Energy Plus. The local charity and social enterprise provides advice about staying warm and combating damp and mould, as well as assisting vulnerable householders with applications for insulation and heating schemes and providing referrals to other support organisations where appropriate.