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Britain’s freezing homes, ‘a silent killer’

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COLD homes are a bigger killer than road accidents, alcohol or drug misuse, new research shows.

During the Coalition Government’s five years in power, 46,700 people have died simply because they live in cold homes.

Analysis of official data by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) today reveals, for the first time, the number of deaths each year directly related to cold homes. This represents 30% of the total number of Excess Winter Deaths according to the World Health Organisation.

The new figures from ACE estimate that this winter (2014/15) has been the deadliest in the last five years, with two thirds more cold homes deaths than the average.

The Energy Bill Revolution, the world’s largest fuel poverty campaign, has slammed the Coalition for failing to live up to its rhetoric on cold homes.

Over 46,000 people have backed an Avaaz petition which was delivered to George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander today demanding that all parties prioritise using infrastructure funds to invest in home energy efficiency in their manifestos which are due to be finalised this week.

Campaigners point to a long list of Government failures throughout the last Parliament which have seen an unprecedented fall in the support available to people who can’t afford to heat their homes:

  • The Coalition has cut the Energy Companies Obligation, presided over Green Deal debacle, and abolished schemes like Warm Front.
  • The most effective way to bring down energy bills is to install energy efficiency measures which can save a household more than £400 per year. But the amount of energy efficiency support available to the fuel poor has plummeted 80% in the last two years. This year saw the lowest number of families since 2002 receive Government insulation support to keep their homes warm, according to today’s ACE research.

The Government boasts about installing energy efficiency measures in 1 million households under their new schemes but if they had kept to their old schemes, 2.8 million households would have received them. As a result 1.8 million families have missed out on home improvements during the Parliament.

Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said: “Cold homes are one of the most deadly killers in Britain today, but this silent menace is too often ignored because it happens behind closed doors. The evidence shows that insulation support for the fuel poor has plummeted through the floor during this Parliament. The Government must step up and put a stop to these unnecessary deaths, by committing infrastructure funds to home energy efficiency and ending our cold homes crisis once and for all.”

Today’s figures show that cold homes killed more people in 2013 than carbon monoxide, fire, assault, and road/rail accidents combined.

Britain is second only to Estonia for fuel poverty in Europe, and cold homes have led to more people admitted to hospital with breathing problems than Sweden over the past five years.

The NHS is bearing the burden of this Government failure. Cold homes cost the NHS £1.36billion every year, according to Age-UK.

Leaky and cold homes are a cause of illnesses including chronic lung disease, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

According to consultants Cambridge Econometrics, investing just 3% of the infrastructure budget in energy efficiency would take 2 million homes out of fuel poverty by 2020. Such a programme would increase UK GDP by £13.9billion a year by 2030 and create 108,000 new jobs.

Mass public support saw the Energy Bill Revolution’s campaign video recently go viral. The video of political leaders singing a spoof version of Frozen hit ‘let it go’ reached 5 million people.

Sam Barratt, Campaign Director of Avaaz said: “David Cameron may think insulating homes is ‘green crap’, but having a warm home can be the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable in our society. It really is a disgrace that only Estonia has worse fuel poverty than Britain in Europe. All parties must commit to radical action using infrastructure funds to insulate homes to save lives in their manifestos to stop this country’s cold home killer.”

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NSPCC: Wales conference puts spotlight on domestic abuse

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PROTECTING women and children from domestic abuse was the focus of a ground-breaking conference in Wales this week (Mar 28).

Organised by Cardiff University’s Exchange Network – with support from NSPCC Cymru / Wales and Welsh Women’s Aid – the event aimed to share information on the most effective approaches to tackle all forms of violence against women, domestic abuse and support for victims – be they adults or children.

Preventing violence from happening and protecting those who fall victim to domestic abuse formed the focus of the conference, at Cardiff’s Novotel Hotel.

Representatives from Welsh Government, Relate Cymru, Barnardos and Rape and Sexual Abuse (RASA) Centre also attended.

Domestic abuse continues to be a significant reason for young people to contact Childline. In 2016/17 volunteers at the NSPCC-run helpline undertook 120 counselling sessions with children from Wales who had concerns about abuse by a partner in their own relationship.

And 241 children from Wales contacted Childline to discuss parental domestic abuse.

Some young people who witness this also experience physical abuse by their parents. This can sometimes happen when they try and intervene in the abuse taking place, with some children telling Childline they were hit by their mother or father when trying to stop a fight.

“Sometimes my dad gets in a bad mood and gets really aggressive. He says horrible things to me and my mum and it scares me. In the past he was threatening to hit my mum, when I tried to get him to calm down he slapped me instead. I feel like neither of them listen to me and they don’t understand how upset it’s all making me.” (Girl, 16-18, Wales)

Head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, Des Mannion, told The Llanelli Herald: “Domestic abuse can have a huge impact on a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing and it’s hugely important that we share information and discuss ways to both prevent violence and protect victims.

“We all have a part to play in tackling domestic abuse and it’s important to pick up the phone if you’re concerned so that our advisers can offer guidance and get help where it’s needed.

“Stepping in early helps to change behaviours and avoid abuse escalating, and putting the child at the heart of interventions is paramount in keeping children safe and limiting long-term damage.

“It is also vital that children and young people affected by domestic abuse have access to the right kind of support to overcome the trauma of witnessing and experiencing domestic abuse.”

Any child worried about domestic abuse can call Childline on 0800 11 11. Any adult who is concerned about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

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Pop-up craft stalls return to St Elli

Tamsin Mathias

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Photo credit: www.stelli.co.uk/about-us/

LLANELLI’S St Elli Shopping Centre is once again playing host to a fantastic group of pop-up craft stalls today and tomorrow (Mar 1-2).

Following on from a highly successful outing just before Christmas, the ‘Pert A Blasus Pop-Up Emporium’ will see a variety of crafters take to the Atrium to sell their handmade crafts.

A group of friends who met whilst running stalls at craft markets around South Wales, Pert A Blasus brings together a host of skill sets and backgrounds – including a former kitchen fitter and scaffolder, a former clerical assistant, and a primary school teacher.

Primary school teacher Jill Davies has been crafting most of her life as a hobby; however, seven years ago decided to launch ‘Dzines by Jill’, which sees her hand-decorate plain pieces of ceramic and household items with her own unique designs.

Jill also organises her own ‘Made it Markets’ in Neath.

Also on board with Pert A Blasus is Steve Kennedy, who is the brainchild of ‘Cut n Scroll’, where he hand cuts items from wood and enlists the help of his wife Tanya for painting and gemming; Wendy Taylor, also a primary school teacher, who completed a precious metal course at Gower College and now makes her own items for her ‘Simplicity by Silver’ stall; and Jill James who runs her ‘Pretty Cute Fairies’ stall.

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Community

Bread and Jam for Christmas

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A young woman with Spina bifida has been left alone in an empty home with nothing but bread and jam to eat and with no cooking facilities. Jackie lives a stone’s throw from Llanelli Town Hall and yet she claims she has been abandoned by the County Council, her AM, her MP and Social Services. She faces a wait until January 10 before service providers meet to discuss her case.

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