Here at Age UK Bedfordshire we have been working in partnership with both Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils, but also Age UK national and EON energy suppliers.
There have been four different projects running:-
• Warm Homes Healthy People Bedford Borough Council area
• Warm Homes Healthy People Central Bedfordshire area
• EON Information and Advice project
• EON Handyperson project
Warm Homes Healthy People Bedford Borough Council Area
Both the Local Authorities were successful in bidding for project funds to work with voluntary organisation partners to deliver initiatives across their areas to help vulnerable people during the winter. Age UK Bedfordshire were one of these partners and our focus was to deliver areas of this project to older people in Bedford Borough. We employed advisors and Community Support Workers on additional hours to work with older people who were particularly vulnerable during the cold weather. We were able to give advice on keeping warm, help with benefit checks, referrals to the EON projects, referrals to the Council departments for insulation, repair, and other issues, and also provide ‘hot boxes’ to those most vulnerable. The ‘hot boxes’ were an initiative that we started last winter and proved so successful that we continued this year. Each ‘hot box’ contains emergency supplies such as porridge, rice pudding, jam, milk, tea bags, soups, hot chocolate, biscuits, flask, knee blanket, dressing gown, hot water bottle and other small items of clothing designed to help during the cold and snowy weather. We provided 50 ‘hot boxes’ to older people across Bedford Borough area. Each ‘hot box’ also contained useful booklets and information tips.
Warm Homes Healthy People Central Bedfordshire Council Area
Another partnership was successful in the Central Bedfordshire Authority area and again we worked with our Council colleagues to help vulnerable older people living in poor conditions to access information, advice and help to enable them to improve their homes and environments through Council and other voluntary organisation help. Added to this work we introduced the ‘hot boxes’ for vulnerable older people in Central Bedfordshire which contained similar food stuffs as Bedford and clothing such as hats, gloves, and scarves. Alongside the ‘hot boxes’ we were able to supply extra blankets, small aids and adaptations such as jar openers, folding walking sticks, illuminated magnifiers, and many more, plus heaters for loan if needed.
Again we supplied 50 needy older people with a ‘hot box’ contents of which were very similar to those delivered in the Bedford area. Recipients were assessed within a criteria of need, finance, and mobility and referrals came through to us from a wide variety of sources.
EON Information and Advice Project
This short term project was designed and launched by Age UK national and EON energy supplier in order to assist those who suffer from fuel poverty and have difficulty paying their winter bills. We have been working to identify those people who are eligible for the Warm Homes Discount one off payment. This payment is around £100 pounds per household and is designed for people who are on benefits such as Pension Credit. Some householders are automatically identified by energy suppliers but others need to apply and this is where we have been concentrating our efforts. We have identified an extra 200 people during this winter and enabled them to have benefits checks, claim entitlements that they should be receiving and registered them for the Warm Homes Discount.
EON Handyperson Project
This hugely successful project is in its second winter and is another partnership with Age UK national and EON. Last year we supplied and fitted small environmentally friendly and fuel saving measures to over 200 older peoples’ homes. Items that we supply and fit are all completely FREE OF CHARGE to the household. EON are funding all the items and the cost of assessment and fitting.
This year we once again targeted 200 homes and have successfully enabled these households to have a combination of the following items supplied and fitted by our Handyperson Team FOC:-
• Hot water cylinder jackets
• WC Water saving Hippo Bags
• Energy Efficiency Light bulbs
• Timer Switches
• Dusk to Dawn Night Lights
• Foam window and door draught excluder
• Plastic door draught excluders
• Foam under door draught excluders
• Letter box bristle strips
• Radiator reflector foil
Each person who has accessed one of the above four projects has been cross referred to other projects and other partners to ensure we identify and enable a full assessment of each client’s needs.