Winter Wellness, the multi agency campaign aimed at reducing preventable winter deaths, is celebrating two successful funding bids totalling over £250,000.
Cornwall Council and Council of the Isles of Scilly have once again co-ordinated a successful bid to the Department of Health’s Warm Homes Healthy People fund and has received confirmation of a grant of ££221,818.
In addition to this funding, £30,000 from Cornwall Works 50+ and Cornwall Works 50+ Cares, supported by the European Social Fund Convergence Programme has also been pledged to the project which will be delivered by partners including NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Community Energy Plus (CEP), Age UK Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly, Peninsula Community Health, Truro Homeless Action Group, Cornwall Housing, Mears Home Improvement Agency (HIA), Independent Futures HIA, Hanover HIA, homelessness charities St Petrocs and New Connection, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Drug & Alcohol Team, Addaction Cornwall, Citizens Advice Bureau, Cornwall Works, Volunteer Cornwall, Cornwall Community Foundation, Cornwall Rural Community Council, WRVS, National Energy Action, Cornwall Council Adult Care and Support and the Royal British Legion.
Building on the positive outcomes from last winter’s campaign which were showcased nationally at the Department of Health’s Cold Weather Plan Summit, Winter Wellness will once again provide, through Community Energy Plus, an initial contact point for information and referrals to other services on Freephone 0800 954 1956. The social enterprise will be providing advice about staying warm and combatting damp and mould as well as assisting vulnerable householders with applications for insulation and heating schemes.
Tim Jones, Acting Chief Executive at Community Energy Plus said: “This project is seeing a number of organisations working together to provide joined-up support for those at the greatest risk of illness from living in a cold or damp home. We want to make it simple for frontline health and social workers, advice agencies and vulnerable householders to be able to quickly access advice or practical help. Last year’s project has already left a legacy of closer co-ordination between partners to help their clients benefit from warmer, healthier homes.”
The campaign will also offer a Winter Wellbeing Guide which gives practical 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 to make homes warmer and healthier.
Targeted support will be aimed at those most at risk identified by intelligence from sources such as GP’s, clinical teams, volunteers, carers, social services and pharmacies.
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.
Anthony Ball, Tackling Inequalities Coordinator for NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, explains how last winter’s campaign worked: “It is estimated that each year, more than 350 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly die as a result of cold homes and freezing winter weather.
Winter and cold weather nationally costs the NHS about £850 million. Most, if not all the deaths are preventable. Last winter, through Winter Wellness we helped 380 households or about 1,000 people to keep warm, fed and alive.
The partnership role in this project is vital. For instance, following the Winter Wellness support, 140 households were helped by an emergency fund. As part of that, 58 households were identified as children in families on long term benefits. Of these eight are now in work or better jobs, and 25 receiving other support. We believe we are unique in linking health and employment together in this way through CornwallWorks to make homes warmer and improve opportunities of getting people back into work.”
Mark Yeoman, Head of ESF Convergence Communication, said, “It is great to see this multi-agency approach – with so many sectors knitting their activities together to help people with complex needs. Employment and the economic independence and consequent opportunities it brings, both for the individual and their families, is a vital part of the mix and is why ESF Convergence is keen to play its role.”
Cornwall Council cabinet member for health and well being Carolyn Rule said: “Following the good outcomes from last year’s campaign, this is once again 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 NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, said: “One of our top priorities is to prevent illness and unnecessary deaths from cold weather. Keeping warm is vital to staying healthy, particularly for those who are more vulnerable to the cold; people over 60, on a low income or with a long-term health condition. The guide is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country to link health and employment together to making homes warmer.”
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 continues the work that needs to take place to make sure that islanders can afford to keep their homes warm.”
One person to benefit from last winter’s Winter Wellness initiative is Suzy Messenger, from West Cornwall, who received an electric blanket, heaters and help with a fuel bill. Suzy works part time and suffers from ill health so needed a warm home to be able to manage her illness better.
Suzy said, “It gives me stress worrying about all the bills. Living on a very limited income is tough when you have limited capability to work. I first saw winter wellness advertised through Penwith Community Development Trust and then at my GP practice. I had two operations within six months and had to keep warm. It was a real boost to receive support and care from the inclusion team. The ever rising cost of fuel and food is a strain when you’re trying to recover and make ends meet. It made me feel that somebody cared that I might die and that there was help out there.”