A major campaign will get under way across Teesside next week to help residents stay safe and warm in their homes during the cold winter months.
Every year around 25,000 people in the UK die because they can’t keep warm in their own homes. This is due to either faulty heating or because worries about the cost of fuel force them to turn their heating off or down to unsafe levels or because they use cheaper and less safe forms of heating which can cause fires.
Many of these people are in the most vulnerable groups, such as older people, single parents with children, people with disabilities or mental health issues and those with a long-term illness.
‘Stay Safe & Warm’ will be launched at the Abbey Health Centre in Billingham on Tuesday 2 October at 10am when representatives from some of the key organisations involved in the campaign will come together to start spreading the message about the help and advice available.
Led by Cleveland Fire Brigade, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers faced by people who struggle to keep warm during the cold months and to highlight the help and support available to them.
The other partners in the project are the Teeswide Safeguarding Adults Partnership, Cleveland Police, North East Ambulance Service, Age UK Teesside, Cleveland Fire Support Network, North Tees and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts, NHS Tees, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Durham Tees Valley Probation Service, Victim Support, the Stockton Warm Homes Healthy People project and the Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland Councils.
During the campaign organisations will work together to identify people who are at risk and give them advice and support. This could range from organising safe, temporary heating to putting people in touch with specialist guidance on managing their fuel bills. Almost 400 people received help during last year’s campaign.
This included single mum of three Nichola Smith from Billingham, who has a 13-year old daughter with Reynaud’s disease, a 4-year-old and 15-month old toddler.
Nichola said: “The support I received last year was brilliant and without it I honestly don’t know how I would have managed. The heating system in the house is very old and I’m still waiting to have it replaced. After a visit from Cleveland Fire Brigade, they set up four temporary heaters which made our lives much better over the winter months.”
Susan Hamilton from the Oxford Road area of Hartlepool also received help last year and is full of praise for the assistance she received.
She commented: “I live in a rented property and at the time my 27-year old disabled daughter Toni was sleeping in a small downstairs room with no heating. I responded to an article in my local newspaper appealing for people who are cold in their homes to come forward.
“I soon got a visit from the Fire Brigade and they immediately provided some thermal blankets and temporary heating. They then got in touch with other organisations and before long my house was being extended to create a specially adapted bedroom for my daughter with permanent heating which is great.”
Phil Lancaster, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Director of Community Protection, said: “Cleveland Fire Brigade works very closely with all of the key organisations to help people stay safe and warm in their homes.
“During the campaign we’ll be highlighting the wide range of free, help and advice available and do everything possible to identify those at risk and take the necessary steps to help them stay safe.
“We also urge people to get in touch with us straightaway if they know of anyone who might be vulnerable.”
Anyone who is worried that they may not be able to heat their home properly or is concerned about a family member, friend or neighbour, should call the Fire Brigade on 01429 874063.