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2 Feb 2012

Do you know someone struggling in the cold?

£100,000 in Money for Vulnerable Reading Residents During the Winter

Reading Borough Council Press Release

As the cold snap continues this week, vulnerable residents who struggle to keep warm during cold winter months could get help thanks to Reading Borough Council's successful £105,000 bid for Government funding which will help save lives.

Health authorities estimate around 80 people in Reading die needlessly as a direct result of cold homes during the winter. Very often these are vulnerable elderly people whose homes either need minor repairs to protect against the cold or who struggle to pay heating bills. In some cases the installation of a few small energy efficiency measures in their homes would make all the difference.

Late last year Reading Borough Council bid for a slice of the Government's 'Warm Homes Healthy People' fund and was successfully awarded £105,000 in funding to help vulnerable people in the borough.

Whilst supporting the elderly will be a key target for the funding, other vulnerable groups whose health may be adversely affected by cold will also be eligible, including those with disabilities and very young children.

The Council is now calling on vulnerable residents who struggle to keep warm or neighbours who know of anyone who may struggle during the winter months to make contact to discuss their needs. The number to call is 0118 937 3747.

In some cases the funding could be used to provide minor repairs to homes which will help block draughts and protect them from the cold. It could be used to introduce some energy efficiencies into a property, like loft insulation for example, or it could be utilised in some individual cases to address fuel poverty.

The Council's campaign   called 'Winter Watch: Saving Lives by Working Better With You' - will offer targeted 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 the take up of grants available for insulation and heating.

An emergency fund will also be offered to provide immediate help and warmth to especially vulnerable people in extreme need.

Reading Borough Council has already been in contact with Ridgeway, its housing repairs contractor, about how the money could be most effectively used, as well as Age UK about how best to encourage vulnerable members of the Reading community to come forward. The Council will work closely with a range of partner organisations, including voluntary and health organisations, to discuss how the money can be most effectively used..

Bet Tickner, Reading's Lead Councillor for Health and Public Engagement, said: 'A little help at the right time can make all the difference and I trust that organisations like Age UK will work with Reading Borough Council to ensure that we use this extra funding effectively to help elderly people keep warm at home.'

Reading Borough Council is embarking on a significant public awareness campaign to encourage vulnerable Reading residents to make contact and see if they would be eligible to access the fund. This will also include a local radio advertising campaign and working with partner organisations to get information out to the public.

Access to the funding is available now, even if in some cases it will be next winter before some of the real benefits will be realised.

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