THE largest-ever campaign to help people across Teesside to stay safe and warm in their homes during the cold weather will be launched next week.
More than 25,000 people in the UK die each year from the cold due to either faulty heating or because worries about the cost of fuel force them to turn their heating down to unsafe levels or because they use cheaper and less safe forms of heating which can cause fires.
Campaign chiefs say many of these people are in the most vulnerable groups, such as older people, single parents with children, people with disabilities or mental health issues and those with a long-term illness.
The campaign, Stay Safe & Warm, will be launched at hospitals across Teesside next week.
It is being led by Cleveland Fire Brigade and aims to raise awareness of the dangers faced by people who struggle to keep warm during the cold months and to highlight the help and support available to them.
The other partners in the project are the Teeswide Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Board and its members Cleveland Police, North East Ambulance Service, Age UK Teesside, Cleveland Fire Support Network, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Tees, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Durham Tees Valley Probation Service, Victim Support and Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland councils.
They will work together to identify people who are at risk and give them advice and support ranging from organising safe, temporary heating to putting people in touch with specialist guidance on managing their fuel bills.
Last year, almost 400 people received help.
Les Jones, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Head of Community Safety, said: “Being able to keep warm at home during cold weather can literally be a matter of life or death.
“Our aim is to identify those people who may be at risk and to take swift action to keep them safe.
“If you, a relative or a friend are finding it difficult to keep warm, please don’t delay – contact us straight away.”
In an important addition to this year’s campaign, all Teesside’s hospitals will ask about a person’s home heating arrangements as part of the assessment process when the person enters hospital.
When anyone is identified as being at risk, the fire brigade and its partners will work with the patient’s family, carer or others to tackle the heating issues before the patient is released from hospital.
Drop-in events will be held on Tuesday, October 4, at the University Hospital of North Tees in Hardwick Road, Stockton, from 10am to noon and at the same time the following day at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, Hartlepool.
Anyone who is worried that they may not be able to heat their home properly or is concerned about a family member, friend or neighbour, should call the brigade on (01429) 874063 or log onto Cleveland Fire Brigade