Cleveland Fire Brigade is urging local residents to speak up if they need help to stay safe and warm in their homes this winter.
The important message, which could make all the difference between life and death, forms part of the Stay Safe and Warm Campaign – a multi-agency initiative which sees organisations all working together to identify people at risk and give them advice and support.
This can range from organising safe, temporary heating to helping people get specialist guidance on managing their fuel bills. Where appropriate, onward referrals for possible free boiler repairs or replacements can be arranged.
Led by Cleveland Fire Brigade, organisations involved include Age UK Teesside, Hartlepool, Stockton, Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough Councils, Middlesbrough Environment City, Middlesbrough and Stockton MIND, Public Health and Adult and Children’s Social Care.
The campaign comes as fire brigades across the country together with NHS England, Public Health England, Age UK and the Local Government Association have pledged to tackle health and social problems together to try and reduce the number of winter hospital admissions and winter deaths and improve the health and wellbeing of our residents.
Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “It is not just older people who are vulnerable and at risk of cold weather during the winter months. Every year we are alerted to a number of families who simply cannot afford to put their heating on and often their young children have to go to bed in their clothes to stay warm.
“The Stay Safe and Warm team can help people in a number of ways but they can only do so if situations are brought to their attention.”
The campaign, which runs into 2016, also raises awareness of the dangers faced by people struggling to keep warm over the winter months and provide emergency assistance and help with longer-term solutions.
Last year’s campaign helped over 700 people and included lending out 449 electric heaters and 109 thermal blankets as well as handing out 60 food parcels.
Phil Lancaster added: “Being able to keep warm at home during the winter months can literally be a matter of life and death. Nobody should be in that position and be cold this winter because there is lots of help and support available.
“Stay Safe and Warm is available to anyone who is struggling. It’s free and there’s no means testing, eligibility criteria or age restrictions.
“Anyone who is worried that they might not be able to heat their home properly or is concerned about a family member, friend or neighbour should call the Stay Safe and Warm team straight away – please don’t delay, do it today as it could save someone’s life.”
The Stay Safe and Warm team can be contacted on 01429 874063. For more information visit www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/warm
Photo: Barbara Lyle (left) Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Stay Safe and Warm Co-ordinator is pictured with Advocate Margaret Yull.