Extra money to keep people warm and well in Norfolk

Norfolk has successfully bid for �320,000 of extra funding from central Government to help its vulnerable residents stay warm and well over the next few months.

A partnership of organisations in Norfolk including local government, health and the voluntary sector, put in a bid for �324,300 from the Department of Health in December and found out that it had been successful just before Christmas.

Work has been underway since then to ensure the money is targeted to help people who are identified as most at risk during the winter months, and that the measures it will fund are brought in as quickly as possible.

�25,000 of the funding will be put into the Norfolk Community Foundation's Surviving Winter appeal, which together with match-funding from the foundation will create a �50,000 support fund to help the county's older and vulnerable people.

Requests for support from the fund can be made via Age UK Norfolk, with the intention that the money will help to make sure people can afford to stay warm, eat well and remain mobile, as well as help them in practical ways such as ensuring they can make doctor's appointments, get to the shops, and maintain an active social life.

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Much of the �324,300 funding will be targeted at helping those people in Norfolk who have already been identified through the work of organisations including the NHS, housing officers and social services as being particularly vulnerable during periods of cold weather. These people will be contacted over the next month and given support and advice to help them keep warm and safe including information on energy efficiency, preventative health measures and local support that is available.

In addition, a 'Warm and Well' awareness-raising campaign will be launched that will seek to help members of the public identify those who are most at risk during cold weather and raise the profile of the help and support that is available. This will include ensuring that those people who are at risk of developing serious complications of flu, such as those aged 65 and over, are aware that it is recommended they receive a free flu jab through the NHS every year. Training for local organisations including parish councils will be also available so that communities are better able to look out for their vulnerable members.

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David Harwood, cabinet member for adult and community services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'While Norfolk has had a relatively mild winter so far there will still be many people, particularly older people, in the county who are living in fuel poverty who will be finding the winter months very difficult.

'I'm so pleased we were successful in our bid for this money and believe we can make a real difference with it. Having only found out we had been awarded this money a month ago, we have a very tight time frame in which to make sure we can most effectively help people but we're working hard now to make this happen.'

Lucy Macleod, donsultant in public health at NHS Norfolk and Waveney, said: 'Cold homes contribute significantly to poor health and keeping warm is a real challenge for those on low incomes, older people, and those with limited mobility or long-term conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease.

'Although the weather has generally been mild so far, winter can still be a hard time for many.

'We are delighted that this funding has been awarded, and hope that it will keep many more vulnerable people warm and well in the county this winter.'

Linda Gill, information and advice manager at Age UK Norfolk, said: 'This is fantastic news, this money will make a real difference to those older people in Norfolk living in fuel poverty. Age UK Norfolk will be working to ensure both financial and practical help is provided to those older people who really need support.'

In November last year Norfolk County Council launched the Norfolk Winter campaign online, which aimed to keep people informed about important winter services and advice during the colder months. All relevant information on Twitter, including updates on gritting runs on the county's roads, is tagged with #norfolkwinter and the 'Norfolk' community Facebook page, which launched at the same time as the Norfolk Winter campaign and now has nearly 700 likes, also carries news and advice to help people during winter.

If you would like to request support from the Surviving Winter fund, for yourself or someone you know, please contact Age UK Norfolk on 01603 787111. For more information about the Surviving Winter appeal and the work of the Norfolk Community Foundation, visit www.norfolkfoundation.com.

It is hoped that most of the measures to help keep people warm and well will start to become available at the beginning of February. For more information and updates about the support available and for advice on keeping safe this winter, please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/warmandwell.

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