Hitting the Cold Spots helps hundreds
Thursday, 28 February 2013
160 home assessments, over 50 heating systems fixed, 75 oil-filled radiators supplied and more than 600 residents helped - just some of the figures that demonstrate the success of Hitting the Cold Spots, Hampshire County Council's scheme to help older and vulnerable people who may struggle to keep warm and pay the bills during the cold winter months.
The scheme, funded by the Department of Health's 'Warm Homes, Healthy People Fund' and now in its second year, aims to give older people and vulnerable people of any age immediate and practical advice on reducing energy bills, increasing available income and keeping warm. Advice is available until the end of March 2013 from a trained advisor by calling a free number (0800 804 8601) and, depending on the situation, further help may also be on offer with free home assessments, access to efficient, oil-filled radiators and grants to assist with hot water and heating repairs using Buy With Confidence traders.
Councillor Felicity Hindson, Executive Member for Adult Social Care at Hampshire County Council said:
"Cold weather not only makes life uncomfortable but can also lead to, and aggravate, 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 'fall beneath the radar' and struggle to keep warm and pay the bills during the cold winter months.
"I'm very pleased that our Hitting the Cold Spots scheme is helping people to keep warm and these figures demonstrate just how important it is to offer 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."
Mr and Mrs Stockwell, a couple living in Andover and with limited income, had constant trouble with their boiler. The pensioners, both suffering from long term illnesses, had an unpleasant shock before Christmas when a heating engineer gave them a quote to repair the boiler - with no guarantee that the boiler would not break down again.
They did not want to endure another Christmas without heating or hot water so they called the Hitting the Cold Spots advice line. An advisor subsequently visited to assess their home circumstances alongside the project's criteria, and also left a Hitting the Cold Spots support pack containing useful tips and equipment to keep warm at home and save money on fuel bills. The upshot was that just two days later the go-ahead was given to fund the installation of a new gas boiler and work was completed before Christmas by a Buy With Confidence trader.
The relieved couple said, "We have never sought help from anyone and have always paid our own way. The work was done very efficiently and very quickly and all is working perfectly. We received excellent support from Hitting the Cold Spots."
Since October 2012 HtCS has assisted over 600 Hampshire residents with information and advice, fixed over 50 heating systems, provided 75 oil-filled radiators, completed 160 home free home assessments and made over 500 referrals to partner organisations.