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Can a nudge keep you warm? Using nudges to reduce excess winter deaths: insight from the Keeping Warm in Later Life Project (KWILLT) - Allmark, Peter and Tod, Angela

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Children and Families Warmer Homes Project

Living in cold, damp housing is linked to health problems, winter deaths and impaired quality of life in vulnerable households, including those with young children (Department of Health 2011a). Specificly children living in cold homes are at increased risk of respiratory illness, colds and flu, mental health problems, low self esteem and confidence (Marmot Review Team, 2011, Department of Health 2011b). There is additional evidence of cold housing impacting upon infants weight gain and the mental health of adolescents (Marmot Review Team, 2011). Indirect impacts of cold housing for children include lower educational attainment, emotional well-being and resilience, negative impacts on dietary opportunities, nutrition and food choices, increased risk of accidents and injuries in the home (Marmot Review Team, 2011).

This research study aims to examine the experience, knowledge, beliefs and values of adults living in households with young children  regarding keeping warm at home. We seek to explore the influences on them keeping warm and barriers to accessing help. It will then use this information to develop social marketing ‘keeping warm’ interventions. Social marketing is an approach to develop interventions that promote healthy behaviour e.g. keeping warm, and overcome barriers to healthy behaviour e.g. tools to increase access to services.


Warm Homes Healthy People Funding

The Warm Homes Healthy People (WHHP) initiative was announced with the publication of the Cold Weather Plan (CWP) for England published on 1st November. (Guidance)

The Department of Health and other government departments already provide a range of advice and support to help individuals, families and carers to prepare for cold weather. However, the evidence that the annual cost to the NHS due to cold private housing alone is over £850 million is compelling. There is more that can be done to contribute to the health and well-being of the most vulnerable.

The purpose of the Warm Homes Healthy People Fund is to support local authorities in the coming winter to reduce the levels of deaths and morbidity in their local authority that are due to vulnerable people living in cold housing in partnership with their local community and voluntary sector and statutory organisations.   Up to £20 million was made available for projects which aimed to reduce excess winter deaths and illness caused by people living in cold homes.  

‘Keeping Warm in Yorkshire & Humber’  was hosted by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and aimed to create a collaborative approach to raise awareness and prompt early intervention for improved health outcomes through the use of insight driven, consistent and actionable communications, raising knowledge and awareness of staff and target audience alike and providing basic materials to professionals. The Winter Warmth England website www.winterwarmthengland.co.uk was developed through the funding and provides information, statistics and communication resources to help organisations ensure that vulnerable people stay safe, well and warm in winter.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council was also successful in an application to the fund and has developed a 3 tiered approach in order to raise capacity of services, educate and empower householders and staff and target the most vulnerable householders with support and interventions to be warmer at home. 


Affordable Warmth Strategies

The KWILLT findings and products are being implemented into Affordable Warmth and Housing strategies and action plans across the Yorkshire and Humber region and nationally.  The findings have been translated to generate interest from a range of professions including health, local authority staff and elected members and voluntary sector organisations.





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