“Keep warm, save money by switching energy tariffs, and spare a thought and a little time for your neighbours, especially if they’re elderly, disabled or have a chronic illness”.  That is the message from Cornwall Council as the weather turns colder. With the colder months just around the corner, the Council and its partners are offering a range of advice and support to residents on how to keep warm, well and safe this winter.

The Winter Wellbeing guide, published online and as a useful business card, gives information on heating, insulation, and how to save money on energy by switching companies and checking tariffs. It also offers information on how people who can’t afford to heat their homes can get extra help.

Sally Hawken, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for children, wellbeing and public health, said: “Being able to heat a home is not just about staying warm. The Winter Wellbeing guide offers people valuable advice on other issues, such as keeping away mould which can make illness such as asthma worse, and reducing stress and improving mental wellbeing.”

In an average winter over 20,000 extra lives are lost due to winter illnesses. Combined with cold and damp homes, it is a serious public health concern. Steve Brown, Interim Director of Wellbeing and Public Health for Cornwall Council and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, said: “Keeping warm is vital to staying healthy, particularly for those who are more vulnerable to the cold, such as the very young and older people, and those with a long-term health condition.

“One of our top priorities is to prevent illness and deaths from the cold weather.”Since 2011-12 the service has helped 9,039 households in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and prevented 848 hospital admissions caused by poor health due to a lack of warmth.

Dr Tim Jones from Community Energy Plus, the Cornish energy charity which hosts Winter Wellbeing’s Freephone advice line, said: “Rising energy prices are a serious concern to many householders in Cornwall but people living in cold homes shouldn’t suffer in silence. Advice and practical help from a large network of local organisations is just a phone call away to help Cornwall’s residents to take action to enjoy warmer homes and lower energy bills this winter.”

Cornwall’s devolution deal has resulted in better services for residents, bringing funding under local control which spans a wide range of projects, including implementing schemes to tackle fuel poverty. In the last three years the deal has delivered £11.5m investment into the Warm and Well programme, making the homes of over 1,000 vulnerable households in Cornwall more efficient to heat.

The Winter Wellbeing guides are available from mid-October as printed copies at Council One Stop Shops, GP surgeries and health centres, hospitals, Family Hubs, and Job Centres. They are also available to view online at www.cornwall.gov.uk/winterwellbeing.

You can contact the Community Energy Plus helpline on Freephone 0800 954 1956.