Some of Belfast’s most vulnerable people will receive clothes to help them keep warm during the cold weather following the provision of ‘Keep Warm’ packs from the Public Health Agency (PHA).
The PHA Keep Warm packs, which contain a fleece top, thermal underwear, a hat, socks and gloves, are for children and adults, living in fuel poverty , who are at high risk of cold-related illnesses. Wearing warm clothes when out and about, and indoors if necessary, is vital to help protect against the effects of the cold.
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, said: “The Public Health Agency is working in partnership with local organisations to reach people who are at greater risk of cold-related illness. These community, voluntary and statutory partners are essential in supporting us to ensure that warm clothing gets quickly to those who need it most.”
More than 2000 ‘Keep Warm’ packs have been distributed across Belfast, where they will be given to those most in need as the cold weather sets in. SureStart, coordinated by the Eastern Childcare Partnership (hosted by the Health and Social Care Board), will prioritise children up to five years of age.
Evelyn Curran, Eastern Childcare Partnership, Health and Social Care Board explained their role, saying: “The Sure Start Programme is delivered by 9 Projects across the greater Belfast area and provides outreach family support, quality play and learning opportunities, and advice about health and well being to families with children aged 0 – 3 years. Sure Start Projects particularly welcome interest from parents at the antenatal stage.”
The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust will lead the distribution to vulnerable older people. A wide range of community and voluntary partner organisations will also identify and help adults in fuel poverty who are more vulnerable to cold-related illnesses this winter.
Contact PHA the Press Office on 028 9031 1611.
Pictured with Janie Reid, aged three, and Jack Reid (front), aged one and a half, wearing a fleece and hat from the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) ‘Keep Warm’ packs, distributed through Sure Start to Belfast’s under fives in fuel poverty (in households that spend 10% or more of their income on fuel) are (L-R) Laura Campbell, Sure Start in north Belfast; Janie Reid; Mary Black, PHA; Louise Boyde, Sure Start in east Belfast; Kate Rocke, Sure Start in south Belfast and Penny Ambrose Sure Start in west Belfast. The ‘Keep Warm’ packs (fleece, hat, socks and underwear) are funded by the PHA to reduce cold related illnesses amongst Belfast most vulnerable people.
Notes to the editor
- This year’s PHA ‘Keep Warm’ scheme for the Belfast area also targets rough sleepers, providing waterproof coats, fleece gloves, thermal underwear, hats, socks and foil blankets. These will be distributed though the four shelters in Belfast: Homeplus in the Botanic area of south Belfast; the Welcome Centre in the St Peter’s area of west Belfast; Rosemount House in the Skegoneil area of north Belfast; and the Centenary House Crash Facility in central Belfast.
- 44% people in Northern Ireland live in fuel poverty. 
- The Eastern Childcare Partnership brings statutory, community and voluntary sectors with responsibilities for Early Years services together to co-operate in meeting the diverse needs of local children and their parents and ensure that these needs are recognised and influence the planning process. http://www.easternchildcarepartnership.org.uk/
 A household is in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain an acceptable level of temperature throughout the home, the occupants would have to spend more than 10% of their income on all household fuel use.
 Fuel Poverty Strategy Team. Warmer Healthier Homes. A new fuel poverty strategy for Northern Ireland. Belfast: Department for Social Development, 2011.