On the fourth day of Cold Homes Week, we hear from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service‘s Station Manager in Central Prevent and Protect, Dez Stoddart, about the work that the Fire and Rescue Service is doing with Age South Staffordshire to tackle the problem of excess winter deaths in the county.
Shocking statistics show that a staggering 400 people aged 65 and over die annually in Staffordshire as a consequence of cold conditions in their homes.
Coupled with the fact that the vast majority of people who lose their lives in accidental house fires are within this age category, it is vital that we work together to protect this vulnerable group.
Many of those who are classed as living in fuel poverty – which accounts for 42,415 households across the county – have an increased risk of becoming the victim of a serious property fire.
A PIONEERING PROJECT
As a fire and rescue service, we are determined to tackle this issue head on but we understand that we cannot do this on our own. That is why we are working closely with partners, including Age UK South Staffordshire, to help protect the most at-risk members of our communities.
We teamed up with the charity in September 2015 to launch a pioneering project called SAfER (Sustained Action for Evidencing Reduction of Risk). Our firefighters use evidence from a range of data sources to identify which households should be targeted under the initiative.
The aim of the scheme is to reduce excess winter deaths, Accident and Emergency admissions and the demand on acute services. Firefighters also deliver life-saving advice and identify potential fire hazards to older people as part of the scheme’s holistic approach.
So far, 540 residents in Stafford, Codsall, Wombourne, Kinver and Tamworth have benefitted from a ‘Safe and Well’ check, with over 100 individuals being referred to Age UK South Staffordshire for further support or access to additional services.
The feedback from the people we have visited so far has been overwhelmingly positive with many life-changing results reported. We have been able to help residents who could not afford to heat their homes in the conventional manner, in some instances leading to the use of less safe and potentially life-threatening, methods. Their cases have been referred to Age UK South Staffordshire, who have been supporting them in accessing benefits and assistance they may be entitled to but did not know how to apply for.
Find out more about Age UK’s campaign for warm homes and get involved in Cold Homes Week by visiting the Age UK website.
Photo by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service https://flic.kr/p/psqGLC licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic