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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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Fishguard and Goodwick Mural project turns to Crowdfunder to raise money

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PLANS to put up a few bright and decorative murals around the twin towns of Fishguard & Goodwick have turned to Crowdfunder to raise the money needed for their vision.

Andrew Harries, found of the Fishguard Future Projects, wants to place 12 murals around Fishguard and Goodwick “to help brighten up the town and showcase its culture and history”.

Andrew said: “Having been born and raised in Fishguard, I have seen the town’s highs and lows.

“Fishguard and Goodwick has a lot of potential with the tourism trade growing every year and the popular events such as the Music Festivals, The New Years Eve Street Party, The Carnival, The Soapbox Derby and many more helping attract even more visitors.”

The murals, which were initially turned down for funding when a grant application was refused, will focus on the two towns “interesting but lesser known history” that Andrew feels needs to be highlighted.

Andrew told The Herald: “Each design will be 8 x 6ft and mounted professionally on buildings around the area. Having spoken to a few business owners around the town, this project has received a lot of positive feedback.”

“The murals will unfortunately need to be fully funded via Crowdfunder, after a grant application was turned down.

“I have explored the option of having them traditionally painted on, but this would be more cost effective and would need to be maintained every 5 – 8 years. With this in mind, the designs will be created digitally and then professionally mounted on aluminium composite.”

If you want to help, you can find the link to Andrew’s Crowdfunder here.

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Community

Drive for new recruits as Army Cadets re-open

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DYFED AND GLAMORGAN ARMY CADET FORCE are now able to accept new joiners aged 12 (and in Year 8 at School) to 17 years old.

Joining the Army Cadets will give access to a wide range of exciting activities, from adventurous training (AT) such as kayaking, mountain biking and abseiling and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to military-themed activities including shooting, fieldcraft and skill at arms, as well as training in first aid, young adults get the chance to discover lots of new experiences and make new friends.  

There is no obligation to join the Forces at all, but they can give some guidance if you are interested.  

There are no subscription charges, uniform is issued free on a loan basis; the only thing you need to supply yourselves is Boots.  

The Cadet Force are also looking for adult volunteers, both uniformed and non-uniformed to assist as well.

They have Detachments located in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Narberth, Tenby, Milford Haven, Neyland, Pembroke Dock, Tenby, St Clears, Llanelli, Trimsarren and Burry Port.

Most Detachments parade twice a week in the evenings 1900 – 2100hrs on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday (Depending on Location) and try to get away for a weekend every month as well as organising summer camps. 

Further Information is available at :- www.armycadets.com or call them on 01656 657593 (Option 1) to find out where your local detachment is and what nights they Parade.

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Food Waste Heroes needed in Pembrokeshire

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TESCO’S Pembroke Dock Superstore has joined forces with food sharing app and social enterprise OLIO which is encouraging people across Pembrokeshire to become Food Waste Heroes.

The OLIO app allows anyone who signs up to tackle the issue of food waste at a local level.

OLIO Food Waste Heroes collect surplus food that might otherwise go to waste from supermarkets and other food businesses and share it with others locally for free via a contact-free pick-up.

Food Waste Heroes will be collecting surplus food from Tesco local stores taking part in the scheme, including the Tesco Pembroke Dock Superstore, and take it home ready to upload it to the app and share it with their community.

To reward them for taking part Food Waste Heroes are allowed to keep 10% of anything they collect to enjoy at home.

Saasha Celestial-One, co-founder of OLIO, said: “People become a Food Waste Hero for many different reasons but they each share a commitment to reducing food waste at scale. It is extremely rewarding because distributing large quantities of surplus food via the app means you get to see exactly what food you are preventing from going to waste.

“In the process of sharing our FWHs also get to meet a lot of new people in their neighbourhood, people from all walks of life. Finally, FWHs are able to keep up to 10% of their haul for themselves, so they can enjoy some of the delicious rescued food too!”

OLIO is registered with the Food Standards Agency, which ensures that all food collected is safe for human consumption.

Paul Johns, Store Manager at Tesco Pembroke Dock encouraged people to get involved.

“At Tesco we are committed to tackling food waste and we already donate our store’s surplus food to local charities and community groups through our Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare,” he said.

“But on some days local charities and community groups are unable to collect from us, and that is why we are supporting OLIO in the hunt for Food Waste Heroes across Pembrokeshire so that even more of our surplus food is eaten rather than wasted.”

To become a Food Waste Hero or find out more, visit https://olioex.com/get-involved/volunteer/

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