Over 30 organisations across Cornwall are getting together for a third year to run the ‘Winter Wellbeing’, campaign to reduce preventable winter deaths, however government cuts have been blamed for reduction in help.
The campaign aims to help those at risk of ill-health and fuel poverty by providing information, advice and practical help.
People at risk of the effects from cold and damp housing can call a helpline providing advice and referrals to agencies that can help households with practical measures to stay warm and combat damp and mould, how to access grants, alongside information how people can help themselves.
The service can be accessed through a freephone number, 0800 954 1956, operated by Community Energy Plus.
Support will also be aimed at those most at risk, identified through referrals from sources such as GPs, clinical teams, volunteers, carers, social services and pharmacies.
The campaign also produces a Winter Wellbeing Guide, full of practical advice and tips on how to make homes warmer and healthier. It is available at locations across the county including from One Stop Shops, libraries, hospitals, job centres and health centres, or online at www.cornwall.gov.uk/winterwellbeing.
Felicity Owen, director of public health for Cornwall Council, said: "Every year we estimate there are 350 preventable deaths related to the cold weather. Nineteen per cent of people live in fuel poverty and cannot afford to heat their homes adequately, well over the national average of 16 per cent. Through Winter Wellbeing, we have been able to offer emergency support, but also help people make lasting changes that will improve their health for years to come.’
Penryn residents, Mr and Mrs Nicholls, were grateful for the support they received from Winter Wellbeing last year. Mrs Nicholls explained: ‘Words can’t express our gratitude for help we received to get our heating working again and the follow-up advice to make sure that we’re getting the best use from the controls of our night storage heaters.
"It’s so important to have warmth when you get older and you’re not well. Winter Wellbeing provided support when we needed it the most."
The ending of the Department of Health’s ‘Warm Homes, Healthy People’ fund means that the Winter Wellbeing programme will be delivered in a more "limited format" this year. Over the two years that the fund ran, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly successfully bid for more than £350,000 of funding.
Judith Haycock, Cornwall Council cabinet member for health and adult care, said: "We were disappointed to learn that the government’s Warm Homes, Healthy People Fund would not be repeated this year. The Council approved a motion at a meeting on 26 November to write to the Secretary of State to request the Department of Health reconsiders this decision. I am pleased that we are able to continue the excellent partnership working we have built up over the last two years. Together, we will help reduce the risks to people this winter and reduce pressure on the emergency services.’
The partners include: • Addaction Cornwall • Age UK Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly • Citizens Advice Bureau • Coastline Housing • Community Energy Plus • Cornwall Community Foundation • Cornwall Council • Cornwall Foundation Partnership Trust • Cornwall Housing • Cornwall Rural Housing Association • Cornwall Rural Community Council • Council of the Isles of Scilly • Devon and Cornwall Housing (DCH) • Fire & Rescue Service • Glow Cornwall • Handypersons Service • Inclusion Cornwall • National Energy Action • New Connection homeless charity • NHS Kernow • Ocean Housing • Peninsula Community Health • Royal British Legion. • Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust • St Petroc’s homeless charity • Truro Homeless Action Group • Voluntary Sector Forum • Volunteer Cornwall • RVS