Last week was Cold Homes Week, an initiative to draw attention to ill health and death during the winter months and proposing solutions to address it.
Across Kirklees different groups marked the week with discussions, practical advice, street theatre stunts and even a bobble hat on the head of the Harold Wilson statue in St George’s Square!
According to Energy Bill Revolution, the coalition behind Cold Homes Week, 25,000 people die of the cold every winter. They are calling for a programme of improving the energy efficiency of UK housing stock to address fuel poverty and thereby reduce winter deaths, lower carbon emissions and create jobs (http://www.energybillrevolution.org/whats-the-campaign/). They estimate that each year cold homes cost the NHS £1.3 billion every year.
Last week was full of events nationally, including the release of a new version of the Disney hit ‘Frozen’! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzf0DrbQJrQ&utm_source=EBR+Supporters&utm_campaign=dd4f86e5be-Frozen_parody_mail_out2_4_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_22f26a3441-dd4f86e5be-76766009
We contacted local MPs and sought to raise awareness of fuel poverty with the public. All four Kirklees MPs have signed up to the Energy Bill Revolution campaign. We delivered ‘Thank you’ cards to pay tribute to each of these MPs ( https://kirkleescampaignagainstclimatechange.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/1413/)
We also contacted all four MPs about another fuel poverty campaign, the ‘Energy Bill of Rights’ (http://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/energy-bill-of-rights-2/).
The Energy Bill of Rights, created by a group called Fuel Poverty Action, calls for energy to be affordable, clean and publicly or community owned. Many MPs, including Barry Sheerman and Mike Wood, have signed up to Early Day Motion 395 which endorses the Energy Bill of Rights. We received responses from Jason McCartney and Simon Reevell MPs.
On 7th February, we created street theatre stunts in Huddersfield to raise awareness of fuel poverty while giving the public copies of the ‘Energy Bill of Rights’ and asking them to contact their MP about it.
But it wasn’t just Kirklees Campaign against Climate Change taking action!
The Red and Green Club in Milnsbridge hosted a discussion by the recently formed ‘Compass’ group on the politics of climate change and addressed issues raised by Cold Homes Week.
The event began with a ‘blanket’ photo stunt to raise awareness of fuel poverty. Those present included members of Marsden and Slaithwaite Transition Towns who have experience of offering advice, materials and information to help people to keep warm and reduce their energy bills.
Later in the week Holmfirth Transition Town ran one of its regular ‘Affordable Warmth’ advice sessions.
Janet Williams, who runs the stall in Holmfirth Library, said, “Our display of draught proofing materials was enhanced this month by a kind donation from Marsden and Slaithwaite Transition Towns. The reflective foil (for preventing heat loss from radiators on outside walls) went well, so did rubber sealing strip for draughty doors. Some people who’ve got used to breezes under doors took home flexible combs to screw to the bottom of a windy door.”
“If you missed us on 6 February you will find us in the library again on 6 March between 10.00 and 12.00. That will be last time this season, so do come in if you could use some draught proofing”.
On Friday, a bobble hat appeared on the head of the statue of Harold Wilson in St George’s Square (Huddersfield Examiner coverage of the event: http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/age-uks-bobble-hat-harold-4932974)
Age Concern has encouraged people to knit a bobble hat on ‘Bobble Day’. http://www.ageuk.org.uk/calderdaleandkirklees/news–campaigns/bobble-day-2015/
Kirklees Campaign against Climate Change salutes all our local MPs for supporting the Energy Bill Revolution campaign and Mike Wood and Barry Sheerman for supporting the Energy Bill of Rights.
The statistics tell us one in ten households live in fuel poverty and that between six and nine thousand people died as a result of living in a cold home last winter (https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/sam-lundharket/possession-of-power-deprivatising-energy).
Rolling out programmes similar to Kirklees Council’s Warm Zone across the country would have huge benefits. To give one example: every pound that the government spends on home insulation saves the NHS 42p.
Notes and references
Cold Homes Week
The Energy Bill of Rights (further information)
Early Day Motion 395
ONS and WHO statistics supporting statement about the numbers of people affected by fuel poverty and dying as a result of living in a cold home.
Information about Age Concern ‘Bobble Day’
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