Over twenty charities and organisations across North Yorkshire, including HARCVS and HELP, have joined forces to bring warmth to cold homes and tackle rising rates of fuel poverty.
‘Warm and Well in North Yorkshire’ has launched this winter and will focus on winter health, energy efficiency, cold homes and emergency support. It is being led by York-based charity Rural Action Yorkshire but the partnership includes local councils, CVS’s, community care associations, Age UK, home improvement agencies, energy companies, and many more.
It is the first time organisations have come together on this scale to tackle a common issue.
Across North Yorkshire, fuel poverty affects over 26,000 households and is a contributing factor to an average of 431 excess winter deaths every year. There are an additional 3,000 emergency admissions to hospital each year as a result of cold conditions, and a further 11,000 children reside in poverty-stricken households, further exacerbating the issue.
‘Warm and Well in North Yorkshire’ has been awarded £394,000 by the British Gas Energy Trust’s Healthy Homes Fund to use a variety of strands and approaches to bring these figures down and warm up North Yorkshire’s homes.
The project will support those most at risk this winter as temperatures tumble, including those on benefits or low incomes, older people or people with long term health conditions, and families with young children. It will also support people who live in rural areas where houses are often off the mains gas grid, rely on expensive forms of fuel to heat their homes, are poorly-insulated and even cut off when bad weather strikes.
‘Warm and Well’ hopes to reach people who are living in cold, draughty and inefficient homes through the full combined strength of the partnership, but also through running events across the 7 districts, which will raise awareness of the support available.
It will work with GPs, health professionals, schools, advice services, children’s centres, churches, and communities as a whole.
Support and aid will be wide-ranging and tailored depending on an individual household’s needs. This could be help such as installing basic energy-saving methods, making minor repairs, conducting home visits to identify mould and draughts, applying to grant funds and for Warm Homes Discounts, providing information and advice, or registering vulnerable individuals with the Priority Services Register.
There will also be more high-level support available through ‘Warm and Well,’ including a Hardship Fund, which is being managed by Two Ridings Community Foundation as part of their Surviving Winter appeal.
Added to this, each of the 7 districts in the county will have access to crisis funds, which will be made available for homes and residents in urgent need of intervention.
The project has the full backing of the Public Health department at North Yorkshire County Council, and will operate this winter and also in winter 2016.
“North Yorkshire County Council is delighted to be working with Rural Action Yorkshire and other partner organisations on the Warm and Well in North Yorkshire project,” said Rachel Richards, consultant in public health. “The work funded by the British Gas Energy Trust will help achieve the outcomes in the North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Board’s draft Winter Health Strategy, and help us all work together to tackle the worst effects of winter for the county’s residents.”
Leah Swain, Chief Officer at Rural Action Yorkshire, said: “In working together with other organisations across the private, public and charity sector, we can address such difficult issues as fuel poverty, emergency hospital visits, poor health and wellbeing, and at its most severe – excess winter deaths.
“Living in a cold home is not only detrimental to physical health, but it also affects emotional wellbeing, and can lead to loneliness or low confidence, or to mental health issues like depression.
“Through a range of services within the Warm and Well project, we will be able to face all of these challenges head-on and ensure that everyone has a warm home and is well-cared for during the long, cold and dark months.”
The Single Point of Contact for North Yorkshire can be found by visiting www.first4contact.org and clicking the button to take you to the Warm & Well referral portal. Here you can also find links to resources and the full directory of the Warm & Well partnership.
The Helpline is hosted by Carers Resource in Harrogate on 01423 740 001. Helpline staff are able to take referrals over the phone and also direct professionals to the Warm & Well referral portal.
Find out more at www.ruralyorkshire.org.uk/project/warm-well-north-yorkshire