The campaign provides joined-up support for those at the greatest risk of illness from living in a cold damp home. Following a successful funding bid led by Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, it is now in its second year, and has been held as an exemplary model after the successes of last year.
Those concerned about staying warm and fuel debt can contacts a Freephone advice line (0800 954 1956) run by trained advisors at Community Energy Plus, who can provide information about staying warm, combatting damp and mould and helping householders apply for insulation and heating schemes. They are also able to refer customers to other services and organisations who may be able to help them.
Customers who have contacted the provision so far this year have accessed services including emergency heating measures and Keep Warm boxes, benefit advice, and home visits to give detailed advice about reducing energy use and bills.
In a bid to widen the amount of support available, this year the partnership has the support of a Winter Wellness Caseworker, whose post is funded by Cornwall Works 50+ through the European Social Fund Convergence Programme. The caseworker, Martyn Alvey, will be reaching out to additional voluntary and community groups in a bid to reach the most vulnerable people. He will also be working with Cornwall Works to help more people into long term employment, therefore reducing the possibility of repeated fuel poverty.
The partnership is urging more people to come forward to find out if they’re eligible for help, both emergency and long-term.
Tim Jones, Chief Executive at Community Energy Plus, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many organisations working together to combat fuel poverty and cold-related ill health. This approach means that customers can access key services from leading organisations across Cornwall in just one call. We want as many people as possible to come forward and find out what support is available for them, so that they can be warmer this winter, and for winters to come.”
Anthony Ball, Tackling Inequalities Coordinator 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. An extra 350 people in Cornwall die as a result of cold homes and freezing winter weather every year. This project is vital in reducing this number, as well as reducing GP and hospital visits.”
Cornwall Council Cabinet member for Health & Wellbeing and People Carolyn Rule said: “This is a really important scheme and we are already ahead of where we were last year in the number of people we have managed to reach and to help. I urge others to follow suit and get in touch to see what kind of help and advice is available for themselves and their families.”
Winter Wellbeing received over £220,000 of funding from the Department of Health’s ‘Warm Homes Healthy People’ Fund in November, and is also supported by £30,000 from Cornwall Works 50+ and Cornwall Works 50+ Cares through the European Social Funding Convergence Programme.
The project is 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.