Vulnerable people who live in the Wakefield and district area will be able to access extra help this winter via the snowbell scheme.
The scheme, which is being run by Age UK Wakefield District in partnership with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Wakefield and Carers Wakefield & District, is an attempt to address some of the difficulties people encountered last year as a result of bad weather.
During last year’s harsh winter Age UK Wakefield District received an influx of calls from distressed people who were stuck in their homes. Following extensive consultation with partners the organisations are working together to deliver the snowbell scheme, which aims to create a more coordinated response across the district in bad weather conditions.
The scheme combines common sense advice with access to help lines manned by trained staff and a coordinated responder network for the duration of the bad weather. The responder network will be supported by the Trust’s health and wellbeing development workers and health trainers, as well as Carers Wakefield & District and Age UK Wakefield District.
To help reduce the risk bad weather poses to vulnerable people preparedness packs have been sent out to partner organisations advising people to get food and essentials ready and to remain indoors during bad weather.
During a period of bad weather on days 3 and 4 members of the snowbell team will man help lines taking calls from people who can’t leave the house and are in distress. A brief assessment will be made over the phone to assess if that person is deemed at risk of lack of food, heating payments or health issues.
Responders, including health and wellbeing development workers and health trainers, as well as Carers Wakefield & District and Age UK Wakefield District will work in pairs to go to people’s homes of those at risk. If people require groceries they can arrange for a maximum of £10 worth of essential groceries to be delivered to their house, where they then pay for the shopping upon receipt of the goods. While there they will make an assessment of their current condition and basic health and if necessary contact other teams to provide assistance.
The Highways Agency will provide up to date information to responders about the state of the roads to enable them to get out and about in the community.
Therese Manship, the Trust’s health and wellbeing service manager for Wakefield, said, "’Cold weather and fuel poverty can cause misery, avoidable illness and even death for too many older people, leading to distress and adding to the workload of healthcare providers. We are delighted to be supporting Age UK Wakefield District to keep vulnerable people well during winter and ease the strain on local NHS services."
The snowbell responders network will work alongside Wakefield Council’s Home Energy Team which was recently awarded £90,000 of funding for the ‘Wakefield Cold Homes Action Project’ (CHAP). This is a cold home ‘outreach referral’ project which will work to identify ‘at risk’ homes and refer them for help from a ‘cold homes help package’.