As the weather turns colder and the cost of living remains high, South Gloucestershire Council is stepping up support for its most vulnerable residents.
To help those who need it through the winter months, the council is promoting a wide range of support available, including emergency and long-term financial help, warm packs for the most vulnerable, Community Welcome Spaces, health advice and expert tips to save energy and keep your home warm.
Using funding from the Government’s Household Support Fund, the council will be giving out 1,000 free warm packs to residents who are struggling with the cost of living at the moment.
The bags will include hats, gloves, socks, blankets, thermal mugs, hot water bottles, reusable handwarmers and soup. They will be available for adults, pensioners and families from early December in South Gloucestershire’s libraries, One Stop Shops and children’s centres. Staff will be trained to have discussions with residents to establish if they would benefit from a warm pack.
In addition, a network of Community Welcome Spaces is now open offering a friendly welcome and a warm space for people to meet others, enjoy a hobby or just spend some time for free. Most venues offer hot drinks and refreshments and activities. Find your nearest welcome space at www.southglos.gov.uk/community-welcome-spaces
Financial support is available for anyone who is struggling to pay for everyday essentials like food or energy.
To help older residents as much as possible, the council is encouraging pensioners to apply for the unclaimed £4m of Pension Credit in South Gloucestershire. Pension Credit is a national welfare benefit which tops up a state pension with an extra £67 a week. Recipients may also be eligible for other support such as national Cost of Living payments totalling £900 a year, free TV licences for those aged over 75, help with heating costs through the Warm Home Discount Scheme and reduced utility bills such as discounts on water charges.
The council’s Take the Credit campaign will encourage pensioners in receipt of certain local discounts and benefits, such as housing benefit and council tax Reduction, to check their eligibility and apply for Pension Credit before the winter sets in. Council officers will be attending various pensioner groups and meetings to provide advice and information on how to apply.
Cllr Alison Evans, the council’s cabinet member for cost of living, said: “Please don’t struggle in silence, there are lots of options available to our residents to make sure anyone who is struggling has enough food to eat, keeps warm and can get help with essential outgoings.
“Reaching out for help is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether it’s calling up to discuss benefits you may be entitled to, popping into a Community Welcome Space to warm up over a cup of tea or asking for a warm pack in one of our libraries – our friendly teams are here to help make sure the support we have available reaches those who need it.”
The freephone number to call for help is 0800 953 7778.
The NHS recommends heating your home to 18°C. The council’s partners Severn Wye are offering energy-saving advice and top tips to keep your home warm, as well as information on grants and schemes to help pay energy bills or install energy saving measures such as insulation. Call the helpline on 0800 500 3076.