New funding to help keep vulnerable residents warm

Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public healthVULNERABLE residents in East Sussex could benefit from home improvements to keep them warm in cold weather – thanks to funding from a national charity.

Money is available from a £325,000 grant from the Warm and Healthy Homes Fund, part of a national scheme administered by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action aimed at helping households at risk of cold-related illness.

The funding, awarded to the East Sussex Energy Partnership, will be available for people identified as being in need through a free winter home check service offered by East Sussex County Council and provided by energy efficiency firm Osborne Energy.

The service is available to people on low incomes in groups more affected by the cold, including older people, families with young children, disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.

Meanwhile, a series of events is being held across the county in February and March 2016 to promote the service – delivered in conjunction with county energy efficiency firm Osborne Energy – and ways people can stay warm and well during cold weather.

Every year, around 385 more people in East Sussex die in winter compared to the rest of the year, with nearly a third of these deaths believed to occur because of cold temperatures in the home.

Cynthia Lyons, East Sussex acting director of public health, said: “While the weather this winter has been relatively mild, it’s important people in vulnerable groups are prepared for cold weather now and in the future.

“For people with underlying health issues such as breathing problems, heart conditions or risk of stroke, living in a cold home can make the problem worse and can even be fatal.

“Our winter home check service has already been able to help with small preventative works such as insulation or boiler repairs, but the additional funding means we’ll be able to offer more extensive help to more people.”

In East Sussex, nearly 21,000 households are living in fuel poverty, where fuel bills cost more than average and paying them leaves the household below the official poverty line.

Older and vulnerable people can stay safe in cold weather by keeping their home heated to at least 18C (64F), having hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day, staying active and wearing lots of thin layers.

Keep Warm and Well events being held around the county will offer free advice and support to people on how to reduce heating costs and keep their home warm, along with more information on the winter home check service.

They will be held at the Meridian Centre, in Peacehaven, on February 11 and 12 from 9am to 2pm, in the Atrium at Sussex Coast College, in Hastings, on February 17 from 10am to 3pm, Eastbourne Borough Council offices in Grove Road on February 22, 24 and 26 from 10am to 2pm and the Community Hub in the Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council offices in High Street, Heathfield, on March 2, 3 and 4 from 10am to 2pm.

The events are being organised in conjunction with local community energy organisations Communities Matter and Energise Sussex Coast, along with Action in Rural Sussex, Sussex Community Development Association and the East Sussex Citizens Advice Bureaux.

More information about the winter home check service is available by calling 0800 0851674 or online at