Work starts on winter deaths reduction project

Councillors want warm homes to help tackle Darton's winter deaths record
Councillors want warm homes to help tackle Darton's winter deaths record
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Work is to start on a project aimed at tackling winter deaths among the elderly in suburbs of Barnsley where the problem is both above average and has been increasing for more than a decade.

Work is to start on a project aimed at tackling winter deaths among the elderly in suburbs of Barnsley where the problem is both above average and has been increasing for more than a decade.

Councillors are to launch a three year scheme aimed at tackling loneliness and social isolation, but the work is intended to have a focus on ensuring residents have homes which are warm enough to ensure their health is not adversely affected.

Barnsley’s North Area Council, which is a sub-group of the borough council with localised responsibilities, has been looking at the issue for months and has now agreed to put £75,000 into the scheme for the next year, with an expectation the work will go on over three years.

The aim is to link it in with other projects, including a scheme using money from the National Grid Warm Homes Fund by Barnsley Council, which is to be used to install first time central heating systems in private homes in Woolley Colliery Village.

Discussions are now needed to work out the precise scope of the work, but it is possible that it could include home assessments, using two members of staff employed to work on the project to carry out checks to see what improvements would help make homes warmer.

There are no age barriers intended in the scope of the full social isolation project, with overall objectives to reduce loneliness and isolation, cut fuel poverty and to make it simpler for people to get the support which is available.

It is hoped the project will lead to those affected by loneliness and isolation becoming involved in both designing new services as well as using them to help improve their lives, with volunteers also getting involved to bring in more skills and expertise to help those needing assistance.

In terms of energy issues, it is believed the scheme can help reduce the number of homes in the area with poor insulation, inadequate heating systems and poor energy deals from their suppliers.

A report to the area council states: “Many of the risk factors associated with social isolation are more prevalent among socially disadvantaged groups and accumulate throughout life.

“There is a strong correlation between at risk groups for loneliness and isolation; and for excess winter deaths; and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes.”