Winter Warmth Website Helps Residents with Home Repairs
Oxfordshire County Council has implemented a new online service called ‘Winter Warmth’ to help vulnerable residents receive support and access funding for home repairs. The aim is to improve the home environment which will additionally support physical and emotional wellbeing for residents across the county.
The easy to use service signposts property owners or private tenants to a website where a postcode is entered to find the most appropriate organization. The services and funds available include grants, loans and energy company schemes that provide home repairs, so residents can stay safe, secure, independent and warm.
The funding can be used to fit or fix a new boiler and install loft and cavity wall insulation to keep people affordably warm. There is also general advice available on how to stay safe and well, and home repairs are also available for people with disabilities.
In its first month, the website has received over 50 e-mails which have been sent directly to the services who can provide the help, when and where it is needed.
The service aims to make a positive difference to peoples’ health which can be negatively impacted by the cold weather conditions. The colder weather is often linked to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems as well as increased cases of isolation. Flu, coughs and cold symptoms can also increase during the winter months, especially for those who have a pre-existing health condition.
It is hoped that accessing the services from this user-friendly online website, will make a positive difference to bring comfort to people’s homes, encourage independence and care for those in greatest need.
Mrs Pilar Thompson from Abingdon Road, Oxford has benefitted from using the service. Her boiler had intermittent heat and was making very loud explosive sounds: “I thought my boiler might blow up. In the end I turned it off and didn’t have any heating in my house at all. My health was suffering, I was so scared and couldn’t sleep so I felt very anxious”.
Mrs Thompson was introduced to a Health Improvement Agency (HIA) case worker who arranged to visit her home with a local plumber. The boiler was deemed to be unsafe, so it was shut down. In the meantime, Mrs Pilar was left with an emergency plug in heater, informed about an appointment for her new boiler to be fitted and she was awarded funding for the new heating equipment to be installed.
Mrs Thompson says: “I am very grateful for all the work done, and very relieved. I know there are other people in the same situation. I think it is really important to have one website that can be promoted so it is easier for people to get help.”
In 2018, Oxfordshire’s vulnerable residents benefited from just over £3 million worth of support to keep them safe, healthy and independent in their homes, so this website is greeted with positive enthusiasm to make a difference.
Ansaf Azar, the Director for Public Health says:
We have taken feedback from communities and professionals that tells us it can be confusing and difficult to know where to find the right advice if you need home repairs. Living in a home that has sufficient heating to stay well, is important for people to live a good quality of life. This website is going to provide a lot of help and comfort to support our residents across the county to live well and live independently. It will also make life easier for residents, so they don’t have to contact different organisations and make multiple calls before they get the information they need.
The programme is proudly supported by the Oxfordshire County Council Information and Communications Technology team who have created intricate algorithms for the website, so seamless access can be given to residents, regardless of their address in Oxfordshire.
For more information go to: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/homerepairs