Research for Age UK* has shown that nearly a million people in the UK feel lonelier at Christmas and City of York Council is urging residents to think of vulnerable friends and neighbours this winter.
The cold weather can have a significant impact on people’s physical and mental health and with the cold and icy conditions vulnerable people can tend to stay at home.
Top tips for supporting older vulnerable neighbours, friends and relatives, include:
- Make sure they’re warm enough – the temperature in their home should be at least 18°C, particularly if they are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over, and they may need to wear several layers of clothes to stay warm
- If they haven’t already encourage them to have their flu jab. They may be eligible for a free vaccination, for more information visit www.nhs.uk/staywell
- Make sure they are well stocked up on food, drink and medicines they may need and try to make sure they have regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day.
- Make sure they have their prescription medications collected in time for Christmas
- Information about social groups and activities for older people is available through www.livewellyork.co.uk or by contacting Age UK York on 01904 627995.
- Help to clear snow and ice to reduce the risk of slips and falls when leaving home. The council has over 200 snow wardens, for more information on how you can help visit www.york.gov.uk/snowwardens
- For more information about Age UK’s national Spread the Warmth campaign visit www.ageuk.org.uk or see www.york.gov.uk/winter more information about keeping well during winter.
The council is also reminding people of its top tips to stay well this winter:
- At the first sign of a cough or cold, get advice from your pharmacist
- Speak to your pharmacist about important medicines you should have in stock
- It is important to keep warm in winter, so heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F)
- Make sure you get your flu jab from your GP or pharmacy
- For information and advice visit www.nhs.uk/staywell
Cllr Sheena Jackson joined York’s volunteer snow warden network
City of York Council volunteer snow wardens were quick to respond to the snow and icy conditions across the city, rural areas and villages.
Volunteers have been clearing vital footpaths and roads, making sure residents can access local shops and facilities.
Phil McBride, snow warden from Woodthorpe, said: “I’ve been a snow warden for five years and regularly watch weather reports to know where and when to clear. Today, I’ve been clearing the paths around Woodthorpe focusing on those residents who can’t get around so easily. “
It’s important to report empty salt bins although we hope that they won’t be needed again this year
The council’s volunteer snow warden initiative has grown from strength to strength, with 211 volunteers ready to respond to wintry weather. These hardy volunteers are residents who give up their time to clear snow during bad weather. They help out with clearing snow and sprinkling grit on pavements, with Bishophill and Dunnington volunteers coordinating their efforts and operating as a group.
The council provides snow wardens with training and safety advice, together with boxes of salt to use on public footpaths and streets. They are also issued with a snow shovel and a fluorescent ‘snow warden’ jacket.
Cllr Waller, acting leader for City of York Council (and volunteer snow warden) said: “Our snow wardens are a great example of the community coming together to help each other. They go out in cold and icy conditions to clear paths and help some of our most vulnerable get out and about. We’re really grateful for the work they do.
“If anyone would like to be snow warden, please contact 01904 551550 or visit www.york.gov.uk/info/20073/volunteering/894/volunteer_snow_wardens. In the meantime, during weather like this, please carry on looking out for each other.”
Hospital report on A & E performance
Cllr Chris Cullwick, Liberal Democrat Vice Chair of the Council’s Health Committee, has written to the Secretary of State to highlight the imminent challenges York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust faces this winter.
In a recent meeting of the Health, Housing and Adult Social Care Policy and Scrutiny Committee, the Trust reported on a number of serious risks which would undermine their ability to handle increased demand for services during the winter period.
Care services in York continue to face unprecedented financial challenges and despite the recently announced £350 million by the Chancellor for the NHS this winter, far more is needed to create the extra capacity required.
The ramifications of a ‘hard’ Brexit are also being felt, as the Trust reported difficulties in recruiting to vacant positions, previously occupied by EU workers.
Cllr Chris Cullwick said:
“I am seriously concerned about our City’s capacity to effectively respond to increasing service demand this winter.
York’s NHS and Adult Social Care services are already facing huge financial pressures in their day-to-day work and given the Chancellor’s recent omission of Adult Social Care funding in his Autumn Budget, the burden looks set to worsen.
Furthermore, the Government’s dogged pursuit of a ‘Hard Brexit’ has adversely affected previously sustainable workforces. Many EU Workers are leaving their care roles due to their tenuous position in the UK and services are finding it tough to replace them. Even if more money was available, this seriously weakens the Trust’s ability to manage during the winter months.
The risks are clear and; the Government must act swiftly to address these issues. I have written to the Secretary of State seeking his urgent attention to these issues and York’s position.
Only 8 volunteers have so far stepped forward in the Westfield Ward to act as “snow wardens”.
With continuing mild weather, the effects of Labours decision, to scrap most salt bins in the City, have yet to be felt.
But clearly most people don’t feel that they should be expected to make up for the Councils irresponsible attitude to safety
Many residents do, of course, routinely clear the footpaths outside their homes of snow but others are unable to do so for health or domestic reasons.
“Snow wardens” effectively formalise this tradition.
Snow wardens are given basic training by the Council. Volunteers are provided with a high-visibility vest, snow-clearing kit and grit (salt) so that they are able to make a difference in their neighbourhoods.
If you like to become a snow warden contact Michal on (01904) 551832, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next training session is taking place on Wednesday 4th December 2013, 18:00-20:00 (training and Q&A time)
A map showing the location of snow wardens in each ward can be found by clicking here.
The roads on which Westfield 8 volunteers are located are:
- Bramham Road
- The Green, Acomb
- Milner Street
- Askham Lane
- Severus Street
- Stuart Road
- Willoughby Way
- Middleton Road
The map currently shown on the Councils web site appears to be out of date.
NB. The Foxwood Residents Association has “saved” the salt bin which is located outside the shops on Beagle Ridge Drive.
They have agreed to pay for the bin to be retained and have set aside funding which will allow it to be filled twice (if necessary) during the current winter.
City of York Council says that it is is supporting Public Health England’s Cold Weather Plan which looks at ways of reducing unnecessary deaths and illness this winter.
click to access
That’s a bit rich coming from a Council that has just decided to scrap 2/3 of the city’s self help salt bins and take around 30 miles of road off the gritting schedules!
They say that there are between 2000 and 2500 excess winter deaths each year in Yorkshire and Humber, many of which are preventable.
The Cold Weather Plan aims to prevent avoidable harm to people’s health by highlighting the negative health effects cold weather can have whilst enabling people to prepare and respond appropriately.