Hitting the Cold Spots warms the hearts
Thursday, 06 December 2012
Cold weather not only makes life uncomfortable but can also lead to serious health problems such as respiratory diseases, asthma, depression, heart disease and strokes. Hampshire County Council's 'Hitting the Colds Spots' scheme is building on last year's initiative with another campaign targeted at older and vulnerable people who may struggle to keep warm and pay the bills during the cold winter months.
Older and vulnerable people of any age can 'fall beneath the radar', because they are unaware of the range of options available or find it difficult to access help. Hitting the Cold Spots aims to give them immediate and practical advice on reducing energy bills, increasing available income and keeping warm. This advice is available through a free advice line (0800 804 8601). Depending on the situation, further help may also be on offer with free home visits by Hitting the Cold Spots advisors, access to efficient, oil-filled radiators and grants to assist with hot water and heating repairs using Buy With Confidence traders. In addition, information packs on how to keep warm at home are available via local voluntary community organisations - these include a room thermometer, cosy snood, children's activity pack and useful information.
The scheme, funded by the Department of Health, has already helped 300 Hampshire residents this year with issues such as switching to a cheaper energy tariff, accessing grants to cope with winter fuel emergencies, debt and benefit advice tailored to individual circumstances and assessment for mains gas connection. A third of these callers benefited from a further follow-up visit to their home by a Hitting the Cold Spots advisor who was able to offer them practical assistance with obtaining heating and hot water repairs. One of the advantages of the scheme is that it provides a one-stop shop for many different problems which together may seem insurmountable for an individual. As one satisfied customer from Gosport said about the Hitting the Cold Spots advisor's help, "He sorted everything out. I would have been overwhelmed by it."
Councillor Felicity Hindson, Executive Member for Adult Social Care at Hampshire County Council said:
"I'm very pleased that our Hitting the Cold Spots scheme is helping people to keep warm and addressing winter fuel poverty among older and vulnerable people. The scheme offers a dedicated free advice line with a 'real person' to speak to who can give immediate, practical advice and follow up on the tougher problems.
"When people have had long-term problems with their heating systems or with paying their energy bills it can sometimes take a lot of courage to make that first call and it is encouraging that more and more people are finding the confidence to call our energy advisors."
The easy way to find out more information is to call the dedicated freephone advice line 0800 804 8601 where one of the Hampshire-based, friendly and knowledgeable energy advisors from the Environment Centre will be able to give immediate, impartial and practical help.
Community groups can get more information on how to become involved, and on all aspects of Hitting the Cold Spots, by calling the freephone advice line.