A new project to improve the health of people’s homes in Maldon, Chelmsford and Braintree was launched in January and will run until December 2016.
The Healthy Homes; Active Advice project will focus on managing and reducing fuel bills and helping residents stay warm in their homes.
The project is led by Chelmsford Citizens Advice Bureau, in partnership with, Essex County Council, Mid Essex Clinical Commission Group and Chelmsford City Council.
They secured funding of £420,000 with the support of Essex County Council’s Funding and Investment Team from British Gas Energy Trust Healthy Homes Fund.
It will target vulnerable residents’ who are most at risk of experiencing fuel poverty, by ensuring their homes are insulated and have energy saving devices fitted. For those most at risk of poor health as a result of their home falling below a predetermined temperature they will be given a cold alarm to alert a centralised support centre of the situation.
Cllr Anne Brown, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Healthy Living, said: “It is really important that people keep warm in their homes, but fuel poverty is a reality for many.
“Fuel poverty is where low income, high fuel costs, and home energy efficiency combine to make heating a home difficult. As a result, people can suffer from ill health.
“This Healthy Homes Active Advice project aims to help those who are vulnerable to fuel poverty, and ill health, by helping them save money and ensure their homes are as fuel efficient as they can be.”
As well as offering advice on making their home more fuel efficient they will also offer advice on managing and reducing fuel bills, including signing up to the Energy Switch auction site.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council said: “Helping people reduce their fuel bills is essential in not only reduce the amount they pay, but giving them the peace of mind that heating your home is not going to cost you more than you think you can afford. This is where switching to a lower tariff through the Essex Energy Switch, in collaboration with the installation of energy saving devices, we can start to make a real difference to people’s lives.”
The project will target those in hard to reach rural communities, such as the elderly, through a leaflet drop followed by a visit on their door step by an adviser.
They will offer advice on services including information on benefits, hardship funding, energy efficiency measures and debt management. They can also refer people for emergency accommodation and provide assistance to quickly access benefit support.
They are appealing for volunteers to assist in their local areas, as they can provide knowledge and experience that will be invaluable. They do not need in depth knowledge of legal and advice issues as full training will be given.