Supporting vulnerable residents to keep warm

A new initiative has been launched to provide vulnerable residents with emergency packs, which are filled with items to help keep them warm.

Winter Warmer Packs

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has been involved in the scheme as part of the ongoing effort to address the cost-of-living crisis in Leeds. The aim of the packs is to provide immediate relief for residents while they wait for specialist services.

Each pack contains items including a fleece blanket, thermal flask mug and hot water bottle as well as hat, socks, and gloves. They are all packed in a reusable canvas bag and each item has been chosen to help those in need during the months when temperatures can plummet, and costs increase.

Naomi Hirst, Leeds District Prevention Manager at WYFRS, said: “We are proud to be able to offer this service to those most vulnerable as an immediate form of relief while we refer them to our partners for longer term support.

“As well as giving out these packs at safe and well visits and at incidents, our teams will also be handing out leaflets from the Money Information Centre. These leaflets provide signposting to additional support for people affected by the cost-of-living crisis.”

The packs have been made possible thanks to the Leeds Cost-of-Living Strategic group, which includes partners such as Leeds City Council, Public Health Leeds, and other third-sector organisations in the city.

Cllr Mary Harland, Executive Member for Communities at Leeds City Council, said “It’s fantastic to have so many partners working together as a group, using our collective resources to make a real difference in our communities. The Cost-of-Living Strategic group is committed to doing all it can to ensure vulnerable people in Leeds get access to the support they need during difficult times. Their Winter Warmer packs are just one way they are providing relief for those struggling financially throughout winter months. Many vulnerable residents are faced with several challenges over winter with the ongoing fuel crisis and rising energy costs, it’s therefore reassuring to know these packs are helping to make a real difference at such a difficult time.”

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures suggest that an estimated 63,000 excess winter deaths happened in England and Wales in winter 2020/21, that’s 6.1 times higher than winter 2019 to 2020.

Across the UK, National Energy Action (NEA) estimates that on average more than 10,000 people die each year due to living in a cold home.

The packs are just one-way WYFRS is working with partners to support West Yorkshire during this cost-of-living crisis. They also host South Leeds Food Bank out of the fire station in Rothwell and are working with British Red Cross to aid those most vulnerable.