A grant of nearly £100,000 will help to keep the vulnerable warm and healthy over the winter months.
The Comfy and Cosy in Middlesbrough initiative follows a funding bid to the Department of Health by the town’s Affordable Warmth Group.
The project, which secured more than £92,000, will run until the end of March as part of the national Warm Homes Healthy People initiative announced last November.
The Department of Health invited innovative local proposals to reduce the number of deaths among vulnerable people living in cold housing during the winter months.
Comfy and Cosy was developed by the Middlesbrough Affordable Warmth Group, a partnership including Middlesbrough Environment City, Middlesbrough Council (housing, environmental sustainability, welfare rights, social care), NHS Middlesbrough, and representatives from the private, voluntary and community sectors.
The project will focus on vulnerable residents with emphasis on those with multiple disadvantages including fuel poverty and living in older, poor quality housing stock.
Key aims include:
A marketing campaign will be undertaken to raise awareness among health and social care professionals to ensure avoidable winter deaths are kept to a minimum.
Emergency support will be made available such as minor boiler repairs, emergency snow clearing and a hot meals drop-in service for BME communities, while those at risk will receive advice on simple energy efficiency measures and tariff switching, benefits advice support and Warmfront referrals.
Volunteering bodies will offer support and befriending, enabling community members to advise vulnerable neighbours on energy efficiency such as the use of slow cookers.
Councillor Brenda Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Public Health and Sport, said: “Warm homes and good health go hand in hand, so this grant is very welcome.
“These are unprecedented economic times, with fuel prices soaring and household budgets under increasing pressure.
“The dangers of cold weather, particularly to the most vulnerable in society, are very real – the Comfy and Cosy in Middlesbrough initiative has the potential to save lives.”