“MY GENERATION grew up with the idea that ‘you don’t get nothing for nothing”, explains 73-year-old George White of Great Sutton.
“The winter is a really difficult time for older people and can become a depressing spiral when your energy bills are mounting and your energy is sapped by the chill yet many are still not comfortable to ask for help.
“If you let the cold get to your bones, you’re in trouble, and that’s why it’s so important that Age UK Cheshire is reaching out to friends, families and neighbours of the most vulnerable to make sure older people in the local area stay warm and well over the coming weeks.”
George, who was one of the first to receive Age UK Cheshire’s free Winter Warmth packs, is fully aware of both the importance and difficulties of keeping yourself warm through the winter, especially when you live alone.
George, who lives in Carlisle Crescent and who has been retired for eight years, admits that when he and his friends were first handed the free pack, which contains everything from a fleece blanket and thermal socks to a room thermometer and soup packets, their first reaction was to ask ‘what’s the catch?’
He explained: “There is no catch whatsoever and that’s why this scheme is so brilliant.
“I once visited a friend of mine, around my age, and when I walked into his house it was absolutely freezing. I asked ‘why haven’t you got the heating on?’ and he replied ‘bills have gone up too much, I’m saving money’.
“It’s so easy to slip into that frame of mind nowadays but the consequences can be life threatening.”
Every one degree drop in average winter temperatures results in an additional 8,000 excess winter deaths.
In England and Wales last year, more than 24,000 excess winter deaths were recorded in the UK, and 170 of these were in the borough of Cheshire West and Chester.
The Winter Warmth packs contain:
A fleece blanket
A hat and gloves
Hot water bottle
Thermal hot water bottle cover
Age UK booklet entitled “Winter Wrapped Up”, with advice on keeping well and staying warm in Winter
George, a keen member of the Age UK Men in Sheds programme in Ellesmere Port, which provides a social hub for older men, says he cannot speak highly enough of the Winter Warmth packs, being distributed in as part of Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council’s Warm Homes, Healthy People scheme.
He added: “The packs are great and the soup is gorgeous!”, he added.
“There’s a really strong wind at the moment so the hat is a great help and if you fancy a kip on the sofa in front of the TV then the blanket’s perfect.”
Age UK Cheshire is also giving away digital cold alarms to older people. These easy-to-use, small portable devices will alert you to drops in room temperature.
The Winter Warmth packs and cold alarms are available to be collected from Age UK Cheshire’s information and advice offices at Hartford (314 Chester Road, Hartford, Northwich, CW8 2AB) or Chester (4 Queen Street, Chester, CH1 3LG).
If you have any additional queries or concerns please contact our information and advice lines at Northwich 01606 884440, or at 01244 401500.