Plan to help cut deaths through cold

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A NUMBER of agencies have come together in an effort to prevent deaths among elderly and vulnerable people during colder winter months.

Northumberland County Council has joined up with colleagues across the border in North Tyneside and Newcastle to secure government funding for its North of Tyne Winter Warmth Partnership, to help those at risk tackle the problem of cold homes.

Severe cold weather can be dangerous for older people, those living with a disability or serious illnesses and young children.

This includes an increased likelihood in heart attacks and strokes, accounting for 40 per cent of excess winter deaths.

The partnership’s approach involves working with the voluntary and community sector to ensure everyone at risk gets the advice and support they need.

A telephone helpline is available on (0191) 643 2807 and the ability to text for information and support on 80800.

At risk homes will also have access to early warning technology, including temperature sensors and emergency repairs.

The partnership is also targeting rough sleepers by providing additional support for the ‘No Second Night Out’ national initiative.

Coun Tom Brechany, executive member for planning, housing and regeneration at the county council, said: “This is about preventing our most vulnerable people from becoming ill or experiencing reductions in well-being as a result of cold living conditions.

“Our message is a clear one that cold homes can lead to ill health and in some cases death.

“We are aware that in these economic times and with rising fuel prices it can be difficult to make sure homes are warm, but there is help available to draught-proof and insulate to keep costs down.

“We will be targeting our most vulnerable households with information to ensure that they are able to get advice, support and assistance to help them keep warm and well in these winter months.”

GPs are being asked to refer patients for a warm home check and 30,000 homes are receiving information on available services, room thermometers and a freepost ‘Warm Homes Contact Card’ that means they can refer themselves for additional services without direct contact.