Winter plans for rural areas must start now

Rural communities must start planning for the harsh winter weather now in order to protect vulnerable residents, local charity Rural Action Yorkshire warned.

Many older people are forced to choose between eating well and keeping warm, Rural Action Yorkshire said.

A crash course in emergency planning will be a feature of an event held by the charity at Kirk Deighton Village Hall near Wetherby next month, with heating and social isolation among the pressing topics on the agenda.

Mel McGeoch, West Yorkshire development officer for Rural Action Yorkshire, said: “With winter fast approaching, it is vital to plan in advance for the cold weather and the effects it can have on our health and well-being.

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“Evidence shows that rural households are twice as vulnerable as urban in struggling to heat their homes, due to lower than average incomes and houses which are less energy efficient.

“Added to this is poor access to cheaper fuel supplies, with 36 per cent of homes in rural areas off the gas grid, meaning it is essential to purchase oil, coal and other fuels early to avoid costly bills.”

The colder weather can also impact on mood and quality of life, she said, with many older and vulnerable people forced to choose between eating well or staying warm, which can lead in some cases to social isolation and depression.

The charity’s ‘Safer, Healthier Communities’ event takes place on Saturday, October 11 from 11.30am and will include a training workshop on becoming a dementia friendly community. For more details call 0845 313 0270.