Working on behalf of Solihull Council, Age UK has helped over a hundred households this winter with their heating and food bills to ensure they are warm and fed.
Residents have benefited from food vouchers, help with heating repairs, white goods and other essential items to help keep warm such as heaters, electric blankets, duvets and warm clothing.
Aside from practical support, Age UK has also supported residents with financial advice in order to help households maximise their incomes. This has included making referrals to change energy suppliers, budgeting advice and help to make benefit or grant claims
This service is not restricted to those who are already in receipt of benefits or for people who are classed as vulnerable in the general sense (elderly or unwell) – it is open to anyone who is struggling with heating and food bills.
Anyone who has seen a drop in income due to the COVID pandemic and needs help with staying warm and fed this winter should please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Solihull Winter Warmth Helpline on 0121 704 8080 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).
Funding for the project was provided by Solihull Council via the Government’s COVID Winter Grant Scheme which has allowed Age UK to extend its Winter Warmth Campaign, running until 31 March 2021. The funding is a fixed amount and will be allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis. Age UK has spent more than £26,000 of this funding so far.
Councillor Alison Rolf, Cabinet Member for Stronger and Safer Communities, said:
“It’s wonderful to see how the Winter Grant Scheme money is making a real difference to the lives of our residents. This winter has been the hardest time for so many local people and we are getting to hear real life accounts of how the pandemic has ‘pulled the rug from underneath’ people who, until COVID hit, were self-sufficient and thriving.
“Thankfully, through the Winter Grant Scheme, we have been able to support residents through this difficult period with practical and financial interventions.”
“If you need help with food, fuel, clothing or finances please check the Here2Help pages on Solihull Council’s website which includes information about Age UK.”
Lucy Garratt, Director of Services at Age UK Solihull, said:
“I’m delighted we’ve been able to help so many families and households across the borough through this winter.
“One example of this is a referral we received about a resident who had fuel debt and had no bedding or means of cooking. We were able provide them with food parcels, a new cooker and new bedding. We’re continuing to work with this resident to resolve other issues including problems with their prepayment meter, supporting them to make a claim for PIP and to make applications for grants to fund a bed base and a freezer.
“We know that these small, practical measures we can provide make a big difference to people’s lives. For example, a supermarket voucher given to a household may offer much needed breathing space to ensure they can keep on top of their other bills.
“I would encourage anyone struggling to heat their home or to access food to contact us at Age UK. Even if we can’t help directly we will be able to signpost and refer people to the right agencies and services.”