Each winter thousands of people in England die as a result of cold weather. Most of these are over 75 years of age and many of these deaths could be avoided. Hundreds of thousands of other people spend much of the winter alone and lonely.
NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is backing a new campaign led by NHS Choices who are trying to build an army of 100,000 ‘good samaritans’ who are willing to sign up to an on-line pledge to say they will look out for an elderly relative, friend or neighbour this winter.
The pledge has been signed and supported by Actress Joanna Lumley and Actor Stephen Fry amongst many other celebrities.
Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer for Blackburn with Darwen CCG said:
“We are fully supportive of this campaign and urge as many residents of Blackburn with Darwen as possible to click the link below and sign up to give a little back this winter.”
“Whilst most people are busy planning things with their families and friends over the festive season and beyond, please spare a thought for those that maybe do not have family, or their family live far away.”
“Five ways you can help after signing the Winter Friends pledge are:
- Set some time aside to drop in on an older neighbour or friend once a week – more often if the weather turns very cold.
- Check their home is warm enough. The main living area should be around 21°C (70°F) and bedrooms should be 18°C (65°F). If they are worried about the costs of heating, check they are receiving their heating bill benefits, such as Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment. If there are draughts you may be able to help plug them.
- Food is a vital source of energy that helps keep us warm. Make sure the person you are looking in on is eating well and has some non-perishable foods in the cupboard that they can heat up in case they can’t leave the house for a few days.
- Many older people take medicines and everyone over 65 should have a free flu jab. Ask if there is anything you can do to help – picking up a prescription or giving them a lift to the GP’s. And if you are unwell, take real care not to pass it on.
- It’s also important for people to keep active and get out if they can. Make sure the person you are helping has warm shoes with a good grip and a good coat, hat and gloves. Offer to walk with them if they are not confident alone. If it snows, clear the path to their door for them.”
People who wish to sign the pledge and join the NHS Winter Friends campaign should go to www.nhs.uk/WinterFriends. Signing the pledge takes only a moment but research suggests that if 100,000 people sign many lives will be enriched and many deaths avoided.