By Brook, James
25/11/2013

Looking after your local community this winter

Winter is almost here, and along with it the threat of extreme winter weather. Rural communities are often home to the most vulnerable people as they are more cut off from services than anyone else. The good news though is that by using your own local knowledge and resources, you can prepare to help in the event that other services can’t.

We have put together some tips for how you can get prepared to make sure your local community is ready for any potential emergencies over the winter period.

  • If you are part of any community groups, i.e. Neighbourhood Watch or even Girl Guides or Boy Scouts clubs, put aside some time to plan what you can do in the case of a local emergency, and particularly the vulnerable people in your community.
  • If you don’t have any community groups, you could set one up. The Cabinet Office and the National Flood Forum have some guides for how to do this.
  • Work together to identify vulnerable people in your community and ask them how you can help, especially elderly or disabled people who can find it difficult leaving their home.
  • Make sure you have the contact details of anyone vulnerable before the cold weather sets in so that you can check on them if you need to, and give them your details in case they need to ask for help.
  • Keep an eye on weather reports so that you can prepare for the weather if you need to. The best places on the web for this are The MET Office and The Environment Agency.

Here are some other small ways you can assist:

  • The government offers winter fuel payments to help anyone born on or before 5 January 1952. Make sure those who are entitled are getting the payments and if not get more information at www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment.
  • Lend a hand with Grocery shopping and other tasks that other people in your community may find more difficult in the winter.
  • Clear away ice and snow from the paths, not just outside your own home, but also those who may find it harder or along routes that access local services. The MET office has produced a snow code to help you do this safely.

Finally, if you or your neighbours use heating oil we have written a blog about the best way to buy your heating oil over the winter period. Hopefully you will find this advice useful and our communities will all be safer places for us to enjoy the festivities this winter.

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