A MAJOR new campaign to help vulnerable people keep out the cold this winter has been launched.
The Stay Safe and Warm drive provides assistance to people who struggle to keep their homes warm during the cold weather.
Officials say 25,000 people in the country die every year because of faulty heating which causes fire, or because they can not afford to heat their homes.
But local agencies are teaming up for the campaign to spread the word about the help that is available.
Phil Lancaster, director of community protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Cleveland Fire Brigade works very closely with all of the key organisations to help people stay safe and warm in their homes.
“During the campaign we’ll be highlighting the wide range of free help and advice available and do everything possible to identify those at risk and take the necessary steps to help them stay safe.
“We also urge people to get in touch with us straightaway if they know of anyone who might be vulnerable.”
The brigade say it is often the most vulnerable people who need their help, including the elderly and disabled.
Hartlepool mum Susan Hamilton is supporting the campaign after she used it last year on behalf of her disabled daughter Toni, 27.
Susan, 51, of the Oxford Road area, contacted the scheme after she saw an advert in the Mail.
She said: “I soon got a visit from the fire brigade and they immediately provided some thermal blankets and temporary heating.
“They then got in touch with other organisations and before long my house was being extended to create a specially-adapted bedroom for my daughter with permanent heating, which is great.”
Project partners include Teesside Safeguarding Adults Partnership, Cleveland Police, North East Ambulance Service, Age UK Teesside, and Cleveland Fire Support Network.
Others include North Tees and South Tees Hospitals NHS foundation trusts, NHS Tees, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Durham Tees Valley Probation Service, Victim Support, the Stockton Warm Homes Healthy People project, and local councils.
During the campaign they will work together to identify people who are at risk and give them help such as organising safe, temporary heating to putting people in touch with experts on managing their fuel bills.
Almost 400 people received help during last year’s campaign.
For information about the scheme call the fire brigade on (01429) 874063 or go to www.clevelandfire.gov.uk/warm