Winter warmth drive has helped 15,000 households

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A STUDY by Leeds Metropolitan University has concluded 15,000 households in the city have benefitted from practical support this winter as a result of a council drive to heat more homes.

The Yorkshire Evening Post was one of the supporters of the Leeds Community Federation’s Winter Warmth campaign, which smashed through its £50,000 target in January, thanks in part to a sizeable donation from Leeds City Council.

However, the cash injection was part of a wider £200,000 funding package put together by the authority, which also supported the Care and Repair Leeds, Groundwork Leeds, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and St George’s Crypt.

Researchers from the Health Together team at Leeds Met interviewed representatives from 30 voluntary and community sector organisations, which provide services to the city’s elderly and vulnerable.

They concluded that the winter warmth initiatives made a vital difference - and that money should be set aside for similar projects in the future.

Some progress is likely to be made through grants awarded by the Leeds Community Foundation, which raised a total of £82,000, thanks to donations from businesses, YEP readers and the city council.

However, the council’s Health Improvement Specialist, Myrte Elbers, agreed there is no room for complacency.

“Over the past 50 years, the number of extra winter deaths has reduced significantly but around 390 extra deaths still occurred in Leeds over the winter in 2012,” she said.

“The winter months also take their toll on those with existing health conditions. That is why we are so determined to work with communities to help people deal with the problems winter can bring.”

The team at Leeds Met was led by research fellow Jenny Woodward and conducted in-depth interviews with professionals and focus groups.

Jenny said: “We found there was a high demand, with many organisations feeling they were only scratching the surface.

“We found many people - especially older people - felt cut off both physically and socially during the winter. So, in future, similar schemes need to focus on providing practical help and support and reducing social isolation during the winter.”

Heavy snow caused chaos earlier this month Photo: Johnston Press

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