Warm Minds is a joint partnership between MHNE and NEA, funded by Scottish Power
Fuel Poverty affects over 4 million households in Britain today, and it is estimated that 3000 deaths per year can be linked to it. Projections are this will very likely increase in the near future with estimations of 8m people affected by 2016.It is a particular issue affecting mental health service users and carers and MHNE members need to further develop our knowledge and understanding to enable us to identify people who may experience fuel poverty and able to find ways of supporting them.
MHNE issued a survey to 252 members and received 23 responses which is a return rate of nearly 10%.The survey revealed that 75% of MHNE members did not offer any support or advice on fuel poverty or related issues to their clients.In the region where fuel poverty is most prevalent (27% of North East households are fuel poor) this is an alarming statistic and MHNE believes this needs to be addressed urgently.
For the remaining 25% of MHNE members who do offer support to their vulnerable clients, this consists of offering referrals to more appropriate organisations such as Warm Zones or the Citizens Advice Bureau.No direct advice is given out by MHNE members.MHNE believe that MHNE members are in a key position to provide this advice to their clients as they are often trusted figures in their client’s lives and they will often listen to the guidance of someone they know rather than a stranger at a referral agency.
MHNE and NEA have agreed to utilise the model from a previously successful NEA training project entitled Warmer, Healthier Children which offered training sessions to a wide range of agencies working with children between the ages of 0-16 and from different family groups.This project was a great success with over 459 professionals benefiting from the training, and an estimated 14,587 households benefitting from their support.Both MHNE and NEA believe this project to be a proven model of developing and delivering training and therefore this model will be replicated to enable MHNE and NEA to engage with mental health professionals.
Frontline mental health professionals are in an ideal position to help their vulnerable clients and service users.As the evidence above proves, MHNE members currently lack the basic knowledge of energy efficiency measures or what assistance is available for their vulnerable service users and clients.The Warm Minds project aims to address this discrepancy.
MHNE in partnership with NEA, propose to develop a bespoke training course for MHNE members to enable their frontline staff to assist and support their vulnerable service users.Prior to the project delivery, NEA will assist MHNE by carrying out an in-depth profiling of the region to ensure that the training is relevant and tailored to frontline mental health professionals in the North East.
NEA staff are experts in developing, delivering and monitoring training courses for a range of recipients and target groups.The bespoke training course will be developed in partnership with MHNE to increase the knowledge of mental health professionals and volunteers who work with vulnerable clients living in fuel poverty and enable them to give advice and make referrals.
MHNE proposes to administer a Support Grant to needy low-income service users who may need assistance towards energy saving measures and appliances. This grant will be held by MHNE and the amount received by any one client will be capped at £200. This grant would be assessed on a case-by-case basis
Once participants have completed the training, MHNE and NEA will offer on-going mentoring and support to the trained mental health professionals and volunteers. This will enable course participants to access additional guidance for any queries they encounter. The mentoring support will be offered via telephone and email support.
A quarterly e-bulletin newsletter will also be produced by NEA and distributed by MHNE to professionals who participate in the training and other MHNE members. The bulletin will feature information on local and regional grant schemes, examples of best practice and updates on fuel poverty and mental health statistics and policies.
To ensure that the mental health professionals trained, and other MHNE members are up to date on mental health and fuel poverty issues, MHNE proposes to organise and deliver two forums. These forums will include an update on mental health and fuel poverty policies in the North East as well as the national picture. The forums will also promote examples of good practice in the region and highlight issues pertinent to MHNE members which MHNE can feedback to the Department for Health. MHNE intend to invite NEA to provide a briefing on fuel poverty at each forum.
In 2010, 26% of households in the North East were living in fuel poverty. This is the highest ranking region in England.The detrimental physical effects of living in cold, damp homes is generally well accepted but the psychological side cannot be overlooked. Living in cold conditions for long periods can be stressful in itself, but is aggravated by worry about fuel bills and fuel debt.
Research has shown that suicide can be associated with poverty and adverse social circumstances.Numerous studies have demonstrated the correlation between poor housing, low income and issues such as depression, phobias in children, stigma, anxiety and panic attacks.
A study carried out by Shelter in 2006 suggested that “children in bad housing conditions, including cold homes, are more likely to have mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, to contract meningitis, have respiratory problems, experience long-term ill health and disability, experience slow physical growth and have delayed cognitive development” (The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty, Marmot Review Team, page 29).
The recent Marmot Review report also makes reference to a study on the Warm Front and Scottish Central Heating Programme evaluation which assessed mental health impacts on adults and both found that effects were prominent in the mental health domain, in particular for borderline anxiety and depression.In the short and medium term, receiving a Warm Front package is associated with significantly better mental health.The study showed that as average bedroom temperature rose, the chances of occupants avoiding depression increased.Residents with bedroom temperatures at 21°C are 50% less likely to suffer depression and anxiety than those with temperatures of 15°C (The Health Impacts of Cold Homes and Fuel Poverty, Marmot Review Team, page 29).
This evidence, combined with the survey results conducted by MHNE in the above question, demonstrate a clear need for MHNE and NEA to develop a joint project to address mental health and fuel poverty issues in the North East.The Warm Minds project will primarily assist frontline health professionals to understand fuel poverty and how their vulnerable service users are affected by fuel poverty and the associated issues.
Below are a set of links to some reports around the subject of fuel poverty in relation to health that may be of interest:
New Policy Institute 2008 report for the Eaga Partnership Charitable Trust entitled Cold and poor: an analysis of the link between fuel poverty and low income
Fuel poverty statistics, including their annual reports, at the Department of Energy and Climate Change fuel poverty website
For a wide-ranging discussion of all aspects of housing, including its links with poverty, see the 2006 Joseph Rowntree Foundation report entitled Housing and Neighbourhoods Monitor
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report entitled Cold comfort: The social and environmental determinants of excess winter deaths in England
Imperial College research on the links between poor housing and poor health
The Energy Saving Trust report entitled Health impact evaluation of Warm Front
Section of the Department of Communities and Local Government's website on the state of English house conditions
ofgem 2005 social action strategy
National Energy Action
The Poverty Site: Section on Fuel Poverty
ANNUAL REPORT ON FUEL POVERTY STATISTICS 2012
The Government has been accused of turning its back on hard-up families by slashing spending on fuel poverty. A report published today ahead of the government’s latest fuel poverty statistics reveals that funding to help fuel-poor households is being cut by almost a third. Meanwhile national spending on making homes more energy efficient will have been halved over the three years to 2013.
The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) said that next year’s spending on improving the energy efficiency of the homes of vulnerable people is set at just £540m. But last year an all-party parliamentary group suggested that £4bn a year is needed to tackle the huge scale of the problem
Story by Simon Read in The Independent - click here to read more on the Independent's website.
Given below is a list of links to 5 article on fuel poverty that make interesting reading:
• Poor families lose out on £30m aid for utility bills
• SSE in a price rise pledge
• Fuel poverty cases could treble over next four years
• Fuel poverty deaths three times higher than government estimates
• Phil King: Fighting out of the Fringes: Government Inspector - big cast, big names, big effort
A project to alleviate fuel poverty has helped almost 200 households in one of England's smallest counties. Households in fuel poverty are defined as those that spend more than 10% of their income on keeping warm. With 16% of the population in fuel poverty and a high proportion living in rural communities, Rutland is a county vulnerable to rising and volatile energy prices.
In early 2012 partners from across the county joined forces to tackle these issues and instigated a programme of activities, Energy Action for Rutland (EA4R). The project, led by locally based charity Change Agents UK and funded by Rutland Together and the Department of Health, sought to offer a range of help. This included household energy audits, warm home packs, a handyman service, free basic energy efficiency measures and training for frontline staff. The project brought together Rutland County Council, Age UK, Voluntary Action Rutland, Spire Homes and Rutland's Citizens Advice Bureau. Click HERE to read more
Update on fuel poverty training
Workshops already booked:
Chinese Healthy Living Centre Callerton House, Ncle 24th July* Half Day
South Mountain Chinese Society Murray House, Ncle 26th July* Half Day
Bridge Project for Women Washington, Sunderland 5th September Full Day
Mental Health Concern/VOLSAG Newcastle/Tyne 19th September Full Day
South Tyneside Derby Terr, South Shields 20th September Half Day morning
Redcar & Cleveland 21st September Half Day morning
Homestart Seaham Seaham, Co. Durham 3rd October Half Day morning
Darlington MIND Darlington 22/24th October
ONLY two workshops are now available which will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, to book one of these sessions please contact Lynne email@example.com or Rose firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
More information on workshops will be updated regularly on this page. More information on any available places will be published in the next newsletter.
* These workshops has been specifically designed for the Chinese Community throughout the region
Customers who have never switched supplier are more likely to be able to reduce their bills significantly but most consumers can reduce their existing fuel costs if they shop around to get the best deal.Section 2.4 in the Warm Minds Advice Guide (pg18-19) explains the switching process in fine detail, click here to download the booklet now
MHNE and NEA have been working in partnership on the Warm Minds project, increasing the awareness to practitioners and service users of the effects that a cold home can have on mental health. Please see this full article (click on the title) for MHNE and NEA's top 10 tips and an update on the Warm Minds grants.
MHNE an NEA held a Warm Minds Forum on Wednesday 26 March 2013 at Ouseburn Farm, Newcastle.
The focus of the forum was to share best practice from around the region to ensure warm minds attendees had the latest updates on local and national mental health and fuel poverty issues. Here is a copy of the presentation given at the event, which will provide you with updated information and useful telephone contacts.”
Many thanks to all who attended the trainings sessions and the forum.
MHNE and NEA are now looking at how to follow on from the Warm Minds training sessions in the future, and will keep you posted on progress.