Help at hand to stay warm this winter

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EXTRA support is available to help Northumberland residents stay warm during the cold winter weather.

Northumberland County Council has come together with neighbouring authorities in North Tyneside and Newcastle to secure funding from the Government for a North of Tyne Winter Warmth initiative.

The project, funded through the Warm Homes, Healthy People programme, builds on a similar scheme last year and will involve work with the voluntary and community sector to ensure people get the advice and support they need.

As well as an information network, there will be access to ‘early warning’ technology, such as Telecare temperature sensors, to help people prepare for freezing conditions.

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

County Executive Member for Planning, Housing and Regeneration Tom Brechany said: “This is about preventing our most vulnerable people from becoming ill or experiencing reductions in wellbeing as a result of cold living conditions.

“Our message is a clear one — 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.”

Meanwhile, Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith, whose constituency stretches to Morpeth, is urging residents to call the Home Heat Helpline if they think they may be entitled to assistance with fuel bills.

Advisors offer a free, impartial and confidential service to connect people on low incomes or in poor health with the support available.

Research shows that around 3,000 households in the constituency are entitled to help, which could include grants for insulation, new boilers or discount and rebate schemes.

Sir Alan said: “Across Northumberland energy costs are a major concern for people, but there is support available to them.

“I want to encourage anyone who is concerned about staying warm to call the Home Heat Helpline and seek advice. And if people know others who might be in difficulty it would be very helpful if they could spread the word about the Home Heat Helpline.”

To contact the service call 0800 336699 or visit www.homeheathelpline.org.uk

For more information about the North of Tyne Winter Warmth project call 0191 643 2807.