Lancashire unsung hero retires

Cynthia Hakin has been a caseworker for St Vincent’s Home Care and Repair in Haslingden, Lancashire, for more than a decade.

Over the years, Cynthia has helped thousands of the most vulnerable in our communities to stay safe and warm in their own homes.

She retires in June and FILT would like to thank this unsung hero for her tireless work to support those who are often overlooked by everyone else.

This article shares some of Cynthia’s story.

How did you come to work at St Vincent’s and why did you decide to retire?

I started working life in the office at the Smith & Nephew factory at Brierfield Mill and then spent 34-years at Yorkshire Bank where I specialised as a finance & mortgage adviser.

After leaving the bank, I joined St Vincent’s and have worked here for the last 11 ½ years.

I’ve turned 65 and have recently become a grandmother, so I’ve decided to retire from St Vincent’s to spend time with my new grandchild.

What does your role entail?

My role is to identify vulnerable people at risk from issues caused or exacerbated by fuel poverty and excess cold, and deliver a care package to support them. This can involve combining funds from disparate, local authority, charitable foundation, and benevolent fund sources.

I have been instrumental in securing funding from Lancashire County Council, British Gas Energy Trust, Gas Safe, Scottish & Southern Energy, and nPower/FILT Health through Warmth.

What have been some of the challenges over the years?

The grants I apply for are often constrained by their rules. Plus, sometimes there is a lack of understanding about the impact the right home repairs can have on a person’s health.

For example, most of the properties in our area are ageing terraced houses built in the early 1900s and many of the roofs are of an age when they need repairing or replacing.   I approached a charity to support repairs at a house in Rossendale that had been left with a roof near collapse due to poor workmanship.   They asked me:  how does the roof affect their health?

Tell us about some of the people you have helped?

It’s hard to single out people. Many of my clients feel lost and alone, with no-one to turn to so it’s gratifying to be able to help in some way. However, a few cases that come to mind.

  • 88-year old was found collapsed and near death with pneumonia. His roof needed replacing and the carpets were ruined. He was an ex-newsagent so I approached The Printing Charity and the Newstraid Charity for funds. I was able to securing £5,500 funding to repair the roof also further funds to install new carpets and have the gas fire and boiler serviced.
  • 64-year old was defrauded by scammers when she tried to raise funding for a new boiler, she suffered depression and had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with osteoarthritis. Client was very vulnerable and isolated after her daughter died at the age of 24. Her house was bare and the boiler had been condemned and she therefore had to bathe by boiling kettles. I managed to organise for a new boiler to be installed.
  • 54-year old was living with her 36-year-old son who had special needs and OCD. Her other son had died very suddenly six months previous. The ceiling in the kitchen had partially collapsed following a leak and the stairs were unsafe. I managed to secure funding to fix both and also arrange for a second handrail to be fitted as the lady had problems getting upstairs. I also identified that my client’s only source of heating was a gas fire in the living room and I managed to secure additional funding through the NPower Rapid Funding Scheme for full central heating to be installed.
  • 78 year old vulnerable lady who had lived alone for 30 years and had a number of health issues. The lady had not allowed anyone to enter her home for over 10 years and when access was finally gained to the property, it was found to be in a terrible state.  The property was full of rubbish, infested with rats and the electrical wiring had been chewed through. Client had only lived in her bedroom for over 5 years with a small electric fire for heat.   The boiler was not working and also there was no working electricity downstairs.  Her toilet bowl was also broken and leaking. I managed to arrange funding to cover a replacement boiler, a full re-wire and new toilet. Once the electrics were up and running this meant she could live downstairs and I arranged for a new fridge freezer to be installed.

Over the years there have been many more cases too numerous to mention. I’ve always enjoyed helping people and will certainly miss this aspect of my job.

Think CO materials available

The Think CO (Carbon Monoxide) project from Gas Safe Charity aims to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning with people who work in the homes of vulnerable people. Free posters and leaflets are available to download and print and a generic presentation. If you are interested in learning more about how Gas Safe Charity can work with you to raise awareness of the issue please contact .

Download free materials here.

DCLG match funding for floods caseworker

We are delighted to confirm that we have received the news that DCLG will match fund the generous donation received from npower to fund a Floods Caseworker for the Carlisle area.  Once in post they will help individuals who were victims of the flooding towards the end of last year who now need help with damage to heating and appliances, expert advice on matters of safety, advice on the use of accredited contractors and more general help to get back into their own homes.

We need a flood resilience strategy that is about more than sandbags

Original article published in Local Government Chronicle 22.02.16

On the face of it, Carlisle is getting back to some sense of normality after the devastation caused by December’s floods.

A huge effort by communities and various agencies has got the city moving again, even if there’s still much to do to repair vital infrastructure across the county.

But dig a little deeper and it soon becomes obvious who the worst affected victims of the flooding are – and the time it will take them to get back on track. I’m talking particularly about vulnerable people on low incomes, sometimes dealing with multiple health issues.

There are many people in Carlisle whose already difficult situation prior to the floods has become an awful lot worse. Without the necessary support, vulnerable people like these will undoubtedly put greater demands on our health and social care system.

A fresh approach is needed to both protect communities from future flooding and deal with the aftermath. This has been made possible via an emergency  appeal for Flood victims  set up by Foundations Independent Living Trust (FILT), which is helping HIAs across the North West and other flood-affected areas provide vital support right now.

At the time of the floods Carlisle City Council staff went door to door identifying those most in need of support and beginning the process of ensuring their homes are dry, warm and safe. But it’s also about identifying their wider support needs – from debt advice to mental health issues which may not surface until three months or more after the flooding. So investing in individuals and communities, to promote networks, relationships and friendships, to improve self- esteem and  coping strategies and personal resources will continue to be an important ingredient going forward.

As an accredited Home Improvement Agency,  we work with vulnerable people with complex needs every day and are well versed in helping them resolve what can seem overwhelming situations affecting their home and health. And in our own small way we hope this practical help can make individuals and communities  more resilient for the next  big storm to hit us.

 Robert has been successfully leading Homelife Carlisle for more than 5 years helping to make it one of the country’s most effective HIAs and helping local householders in greatest need to access the financial help FILT is able to provide.

FILT receives funding from npower for caseworker in flood hit areas

In the aftermath of December’s floods, FILT and Homelife Carlisle will be ensuring help is available for vulnerable households.

Thanks to funding from npower, a worker will be on hand to help people find their way through the difficulties to returning home. They will help with things like assessing damage to heating and appliances, sorting out temporary cooking/heating, getting practical work done in the home and signposting to other energy related services.

Homelife manager Robert Cornwall said: “This a really well timed initiative from FILT. It will  help us get boots on the ground to quickly start the process of repairs and restoration work for householders who qualify alongside the other offers of help being received.”

Stephen Burke, Chair of FILT said: ““By supporting local Home Improvement Agencies in the heart of affected communities, we can respond quickly and with minimal bureaucracy to support those in greatest need. We will work with the HIAs to reach those vulnerable householders speedily. We are very grateful to npower who already generously support our work. We are confident others will want to join them to help vulnerable householders make their homes warm and safe through the FILT Floods Fund.”

 To find out more about FILT and to support its vital work, go to:

Npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund 50:50 Match Funding almost spent

The npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund generously awarded FILT an extra £75,000 in late 2014, in addition to other HTW funding that FILT already manages.  This was utilised through a 50:50 match funding project whereby local authorities agreed to match FILT funding for new boilers for those in need.

FILT invited Home Improvement Agencies to apply for funding and five were chosen.  Where there was a need for a new boiler (estimated at approximately £1500) for a vulnerable client the agency could use £750 of FILT funding, £750 of local authority money, and then if needed could utilise other FILT funds (such as Gas Safe and SSE funding) to top-up.

This project has proved very successful as the five agencies chosen had not previously applied to the npower Health Through Warmth Hardship Fund.

In total 107 cases have been completed and the successful scheme is now reaching its end. FILT are keen to speak to possible funders for similar future projects.

HIA National Conference – Booking is now open!

Booking now open.

The HIA National Conference aims to inspire the home improvement agency sector to embrace innovation and work collaboratively to improve services. Against a backdrop of scarce funding and increasing demand, our sector needs to find new ways of delivering quality services and forging productive new partnerships with the local health and care system.

The conference will be an opportunity for the housing support sector, social housing providers, commissioners and voluntary sector to get up to speed with the latest national policy updates and find out more about the role of housing support services within Manchester’s devolution deal.

Our event will also provide the necessary practical tools for HIAs to tailor their services according to commissioners’ requirements and the marketing insight and knowledge needed to redefine the offer while delivering increasing value for money.

Location: Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel, Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4PH

Visit Foundations for more information.

FILT Launches emergency floods fund and appeal to help vulnerable householders make homes warm and safe

Vulnerable householders hit by floods in the North West this week are to get help with repairs and heating, thanks to an emergency fund launched today.

The national charity, Foundations Independent Living Trust, has launched the FILT Floods Fund and Appeal to support those affected by the flooding. Up to £200,000 of the charity’s £1million plus programme for this year is being pledged for low income households in the worst hit parts of the North West. The charity is also appealing to older people across the country to consider donating their winter fuel payments to the FILT Floods Fund.

Funds donated will be channelled by FILT to accredited home improvement agencies (HIAs) working in the North West, including HIA services in Carlisle, Wyre and Fylde, Blackpool and Lancaster.

These HIAs can help vulnerable householders with services to alleviate some of the immediate aftermath of floods and make their homes habitable again. While many people will have insurance or other resources to fall back on, there are a considerable number who won’t have the luxury of that protection and may be wholly or partially uninsured.

Members of the public and businesses can support this work easily by clicking on the ‘Donate’ button on the FILT website.

Commenting on the initiative, Robert Cornwall, who leads for the council in Carlisle on their HIA services, said: “This a really well timed initiative from FILT and will bring much needed immediate help to householders at greatest risk, perhaps because of illness or inadequate or non-existent insurance protection for their home.  While our immediate focus has been on ensuring the safety of everyone in the community, I and my colleagues in housing are now turning our attention to those needing temporary accommodation and those at greatest need because of work needed on the home.  We hope this initiative can help us get boots on the ground to quickly start the process of repairs and restoration work for householders who qualify alongside the other offers of help being received.”

Chair of the FILT Board, which agreed to set up the Fund this week, Stephen Burke added: “By supporting local Home Improvement Agencies in the heart of affected communities, we can respond quickly and with minimal bureaucracy to support those in greatest need. We will work with the HIAs to reach those vulnerable householders speedily. We have excellent relations with a number of national firms and organisations who already generously support our work. We are confident others will want to join them to help vulnerable householders make their homes warm and safe through the FILT Floods Fund.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Foundations Independent Living Trust (registered charity number 1103784) aims to connect committed business and charitable partners with local organisations, helping keep vulnerable householders warm, safe and secure. We work closely with Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs), ensuring a trusted and quality assured service is provided to the householders we support. This year FILT will distribute over £1m to bring help to some 7,000 at-risk households.

For further details go to:

  1. HIAs – Home improvement and handyperson service providers are local, trusted organisations dedicated to helping older people, people with disabilities, and vulnerable people to live in safety and with dignity in their own homes. Services are focused on ensuring that existing housing is fit for purpose and that vulnerable people are able to continue living independently as long as possible. There are over 200 home improvement and handyperson service providers in England, covering over 80% of local authorities and between them handling around 300,000 enquiries per year.

For more information and to find a local HIA, visit

For media enquiries please contact or 01457 761266.

Winter deaths ‘highest since 1999’


Official figures for England and Wales show an increase in the number of winter deaths, an estimated 43,190 excess winter deaths occurred in 2014/15 – the highest number since 1999/00.[1]

The data released by ONS shows that most of the deaths involved people over 75. There were an estimated 36,300 excess winter deaths in this age group, compared with 7,700 in people aged under 75.

Cold, damp and poorly insulated housing are important factors in excess winter mortality, and in less severe cases they can lead to worsening health, risk of injury and social isolation.

Home improvement agencies – local, trusted providers who provide a range of services to help older and vulnerable people stay independent at home – can provide access to tailored services that address common barriers to tackling cold homes. Small measures such as heating and insulation repairs or gas safety works can sometimes make a huge impact to an individual’s health and wellbeing.

Earlier this year NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, released a new guidance on how to reduce deaths and illnesses caused by cold homes ( NICE outlined the vital role that home improvement agencies can play in in tackling excess winter deaths by creating a single-point-of-contact referral system so that staff in contact with vulnerable people have a quick and easy way to get help from national and local service providers.

Our charitable arm Foundations Independent Living Trust can also provide access to tailored solutions for people living in cold homes. FILT is already working at a national level with energy providers and energy charities, distributing small grants to HIAs that help home owners on low incomes or with health problems cover heating repairs and insulation.

Andrew Chaplin, Chief Executive at FILT said: ‘The figures released today by ONS only emphasise the amount of work that still needs to be done in order to tackle cold homes and their effect on the health and wellbeing of older and vulnerable people. FILT will continue to work with partners to source much-needed funding streams so that we reach more people in need.’

Paul Smith, Director at Foundations said: ‘Home Improvement Agencies are at the forefront of prevention offering a wide range of services that help people stay warm and well in their homes. Energy efficiency measures such as drought-proofing or boiler repairs can often enhance people’s wellbeing and prevent cold-related ill health.’


Research reveals impact of adapted homes on independent living

An investigation by Foundations has revealed the impact that government support for home adaptations can have on supporting independent living and delaying a move into residential care.

It shows that those who have had adaptations and later move into care do so some four years later than those who have not had adaptations carried out via Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG).

DFG – the main source of government financial support for adaptations – not only helps people to stay in their own homes for longer, it can also generate substantial financial savings. The average DFG costs less than £7,000 compared with a residential care place costing around £29,000 a year.

Foundations – the national body for more than 200 not-for-profit home improvement and handyperson services throughout England  – has found that local authorities are starting to recognise the impact that DFG makes on their wider care costs.

This comes at the time when the absorption of DFG into the pooled NHS Better Care Fund, managed jointly by social services and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, could further show the huge social and economic benefits that home adaptations like a ramp, stairlift or level access shower can bring.

Some £220m of DFG funding has been paid into the Fund for 2015-16 and government guidance indicates adaptations should be considered in future spending plans. The research highlights the benefit of DFG-type work for increasingly pressured NHS and council budgets.

Foundations submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to all local authorities in England with social care responsibilities. The request asked councils to look at the care needs of people depending on whether they had previously applied for a DFG to pay for major adaptations.

For people who have had to move into residential care, those who had previously received a DFG on average moved just before their 80th birthday and stayed there for two years. Those who hadn’t applied for a DFG moved when they were 76 and stayed in residential care for another six years.

The investigation also showed that people who need care at home require fewer hours of home help following adaptations – saving around £1,300 per year on average.

The findings come at a significant anniversary – it is 25 years since DFG was introduced to offer financial support for home adaptations. Its launch marked a breakthrough for all those working to promote independent living.

Paul Smith, Director of Foundations, said: “It makes sense that adapting your home means that you can live there independently for longer, but this research indicates that modifications such as stairlifts, level access showers and ramps really do help to delay people moving into care homes – by four years.

“We have an ageing population and this brings growing financial pressure on both the public purse and the finances of individuals. That’s why enabling people to live in their own homes has never been more important – home adaptations via DFG offer a cost-effective and empowering solution.”

The research highlighted how many councils can now link adaptations to social care spend despite most using different recording systems that could not be readily linked in the past.

With DFG funding now part of the Better Care Fund, this joining up of data will help commissioners look for evidence of impact to back up increasingly tough spending decisions.

Paul Smith added: “It’s a requirement of the Better Care Fund for the NHS and social care to link their information system using the NHS Number. I would like to see this extended to the IT systems used to manage DFG applications and other housing interventions so that all local authorities can track the benefits and also start to target people who may be at premature risk of moving into residential care.”

Find out more at

Half of low income working households struggling to afford to heat their homes

New research by the national charity Turn2us has found that one in two low income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work. Amongst the hardest hit are people with disabilities, with over two in three (67%) reporting their struggles, and families, with almost two-thirds of working parents (65%) unable to meet these costs.

Worryingly, of those households who are struggling with energy costs, nearly half (48%) have done so for more than a year. The knock-on effect is severe, with a third (33%) forced to skip meals and over a fifth (21%) experiencing stress and other mental health problems. Furthermore, nearly two-fifths (39%) are struggling with other essential bills, with Council Tax topping the list of payments they’re behind on (30%).

As the weather turns colder, the research also uncovers how low income workers will cope with these costs through the winter. Of those households worried about their energy costs, a huge 71% feel they will have to cut back on or not use their heating, whilst over two-fifths (44%) said they would resort to cutting back on food. Nearly two in five (37%) anticipate that their energy bills will cause further stress and worry in the coming months.

There are 2.3 million households living in fuel poverty in England alone*, and it is estimated that nearly half of these are in work.** As debate continues around proposed cuts to the tax credits system, there is growing concern that low income working households’ finances could be even harder hit from next year.

Turn2us’ research also suggests a lack of awareness of the help that could be available to low income working households, or potential reluctance to access it. Of those who are struggling to pay their energy costs, only 12% have told their energy supplier about their situation, and only 5% have turned to an advice organisation for help. Three-quarters have not checked their eligibility for welfare benefits in the last twelve months, whilst a huge 83% are unaware that some energy suppliers have charitable trusts set up to help certain customers.

This winter, Turn2us is running its No Cold Homes campaign specifically to help more people who are unable to afford to heat their homes. The charity is encouraging anyone in financial hardship to use its free online service to see if they are eligible for welfare benefits, charitable grants and other support – additional income which could help them manage their energy costs over the colder months.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us said: “Our research paints a startling picture, revealing the extent to which households are struggling to heat their homes, even though they’re in work. It is clear that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of the financial support and other help available to people on low incomes to help them manage their energy costs.

We know that this is an issue that affects a wide range of people, and alongside working households, many others will suffer this winter. We believe that no one should have to live in a cold home. Through our campaign, we urge anyone struggling to check what support could be available.”

For more information, please visit

All figures, unless otherwise stated are from a survey conducted with Research Now in September 2015. Total sample size was 2,001 adults with annual household incomes of £30,000 and less before tax and deductions
*Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change 2015
**Source: Policy Exchange 2015
For more information on The Trussell Trust figures please contact: Head of Media, Molly Hodson or Press Officer – 020 3137

Yorkshire Housing launch free handyperson service for Rotherham residents

Yorkshire Housing’s award-winning Home Improvement Agency (HIA) has launched a new free handyperson service to help older residents in Rotherham continue to live at home independently, safely and comfortably.

The new contract with Rotherham Borough Council will mean that older persons,  people with disabilities, life long limiting illness or those who are vulnerable, for example if they have been a victim of crime, will be entitled to an hour of free labour from the handyperson service.

To mark the launch new contract and the free service Rotherham Council’s Advisory Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Cllr David Roche visited HIA offices.

The handyperson service carries out small repairs and fits minor adaptations such as grab rails. The Home Improvement Agency also offers free energy efficiency and home safety advice, and support with funding applications for larger home adaptations.

Rotherham Council’s Advisory Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Cllr David Roche said: “The handy person service can help with a wide variety of small jobs around the home; tasks which those in need would otherwise struggle to get done, and which can lead to frustration and stress.

“We are particularly pleased that we can offer each person an hour of this service for free, helping to ease a vulnerable person’s worries. We are very much looking forward to working with Yorkshire Housing in the coming year.” 

Senior home improvement agency manager Kate Haley said: “Our service is all about making sure people can live independently without home safety or security hazards getting in the way.

“We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with Rotherham Borough Council to offer an hour of free labour. We have a 99 per cent customer satisfaction rating and all our handy people are specially trained to support older and vulnerable people.

 “We find that making small changes can often have a big impact on people’s lives– for example fitting a couple of grab rails and securing some loose carpet can make a real difference.”

Yorkshire Housing’s Home Improvement Agency’s handyperson service was recently commended at the HIA and HP Awards.

Further information about the Rotherham Home Improvement agency can be found at or by calling 0114 256 4270.

The HIA also offers service in Barnsley and Sheffield and in North Yorkshire.


NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign takes to the road

The Stay Well This Winter campaign goes on the road today as it drives home vital messages to the public.

The campaign is aimed at helping people prepare against the onset of winter and to raise awareness among those in key risk groups – such as the frail and elderly and those with long term conditions and respiratory illnesses.

Five teams will be highlighting the campaign at shopping centres throughout the country over the course of the next five weeks and telling people how they can best ward off common cold weather-related illnesses.

A joint NHS England and Public Health England initiative, Stay Well This Winter was officially launched last month and is supported by a national TV, Press and digital campaign.

The roadshows kick off today and will appear for two days at Wallsend in Newcastle, Salford in Manchester, Hinkley in Leicestershire, Bishops Stortford and Norwich. Over the course of the next five weeks each show will move around the regions visiting around 67 sites nationwide in total.

The Stay Well This Winter campaign began last month with a national flu vaccination programme for children. This year the programme is being extended to children in school years 1 and 2, and aims to help three million children between the ages of 2 and 6. For the first time, the youngest primary school children in 17,000 schools will be eligible to receive the free nasal spray vaccine, making this the largest school-based vaccination programme ever in England.

At the roadshow events, expert advice and support will be provided from the roadshow nurse and staff. In addition, leaflets and posters will inform the public about some of the key actions which will help them stay well this winter including:

  • Making sure you get the flu jab if eligible
  • Keeping yourself warm – heat your home to least 18 degrees C (or 65F) if you can
  • If you start to feel unwell, even if it’s just a cough or a cold, then get help from your pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious
  • Making sure you get your prescription medicines before pharmacies close on Christmas Eve
  • Always taking prescribed medicines as directed

Keith Willett, National Director for Acute Care for NHS England said: “Through the Stay Well This Winter roadshows, we are making sure we give people the information they need to help them to look after themselves and also to know where to go for urgent advice – whether it’s pharmacies, NHS Choices, NHS111 or A&E.”

Professor Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England added: “The Stay Well This Winter roadshow is a great opportunity for people to familiarise themselves with the steps they can take to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours over the colder months. The roadshow events will offer advice and information about the precautions people can take against winter and a nurse will be available to answer any more specific questions that people may have. We’d urge people from the local community to attend to find out more.”

  • The Stay Well This Winter roadshow will be visiting destinations across England for five weeks from Monday 2 November until the 5 December 2015.
  • For further information about how you and your family can stay well this winter, please visit

HIA uses BBC Local Radio to highlight funding available

Mark Deer of Cornwall Home Solutions spoke to BBC Radio Cornwall at the end of September to promote the availability of their FILT Gas Safe funding.

The phones were red hot after the interview on 29 September, increasing from three referrals at the time to forty referrals after the show with another 12 households on the waiting list.

Mark spoke to Laurence Reed on the lunchtime show highlighting how winter is on the way and it’s a good time to think about ensuring all your gas appliances are safe.   Cornwall Home Solutions received £5000 of funding from the Gas Safe scheme and will now be using this to work their way through the list of those who called after the show and are eligible for a boiler service.

Home Improvement Agency pen portraits

Foundations has published a series of pen portraits illustrating good practice within the home improvement agency sector. These examples of innovative work focus on Integration, Partnership working, Disabled Facilities Grants, Innovation, Dementia and Winter Warmth.

Innovation – Revival HIA 

Integration – Sunderland HIA

Dementia – Care & Repair Leeds

DFG – Papworth Trust

Winter warmth – Homelife Carlisle

Partnership – Lincolnshire HIA

2015/16 Cold Weather Plan for England

The Cold Weather Plan for England gives advice on preparing for the effects of winter weather on people’s health and was first published in 2011. There are many avoidable deaths each winter in England, primarily due to heart and lung conditions from cold temperatures rather than hypothermia. The reasons why more people die in winter are complex and interlinked with fuel poverty, poor housing and health inequalities as well as circulating infectious diseases and the extent of snow and ice. The winter period not only sees a significant rise in deaths but also a substantial increase in illnesses.

The Cold Weather Plan for England helps to raise the public’s awareness of the harm to health from cold, and provides guidance on how to prepare for and respond to cold weather which can affect everybody’s health. It triggers actions in the NHS, public health, social care and other community organisations, to support vulnerable people who have health, housing or economic circumstances that increase their risk of harm. Strong local leadership and partnership working at all levels across sectors is seen as vital to tackle the range of causes and reduce the number of ‘excess’ deaths that are observed each winter.

New FILT Chief Executive

FILT are delighted to announce that Andy Chaplin has agreed to take on the role of Chief Officer for the charity from 1 November 2015. Previously Andy headed the national body for Home Improvement Agencies for five years during which time he also provided a supportive role to the FILT Board to help them develop the growth plans for FILT.

Considerable experience was gained by Andy  successfully leading the development of new and existing services for socially excluded groups over the past ten years and more –  drawing on the management skills he developed and honed in his former career with Barclays Bank

Andy is also a Trustee (and chair designate) of Manor Gardens Welfare Trust delivering health and wellbeing services in LB Islington.  In the past he has also served on the board of the Community Development Finance Association.

New FILT Patrons

We are delighted to announce two new Patrons of FILT – Lord Richard Best and Sir George Young, joining Baroness Kay Andrews. Lord Best, OBE is a British social housing leader and member of the House of Lords.  Baron Young of Cookham was previously Chair of Trustees for FILT.  For more information visit

New St Helens Support at Home service launched

Foundations Independent Living Trust is delighted to be working alongside The British Red Cross and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to support older people living in St Helens.

The St Helens Support at Home team of Red Cross staff, volunteers and a health trainer are based in the local area and are able to offer practical and emotional support at home to help improve health and wellbeing and maintain independence.

The team are able to refer vulnerable people to St Helens Home Improvement Agency for advice on home adaptations and keeping their home warm and funding is available from FILT for eligible individuals.

How can organisations help people with hoarding tendencies?

The Compulsive Hoarding Project began as an innovative two year research and development project between the Orbit Coventry Care and Repair team, a Home Improvement Agency, Coventry University and the Knowledge Transfer Partnership. The initial aims of the project were to explore the most effective ways of addressing compulsive hoarding at a local level, as well as addressing the environmental impact of hoarding, promoting healthy living and exploring the social isolation many people with hoarding tendencies experience.

Read the full article on the CIH website

Making home adaptations a health priority

This week has seen yet more negative articles about older people, now labelling those who choose to live in their current home as ‘hogging family homes’. Not only does this negative language drive intergenerational strife, but it also deflects attention from the underlying problems of a dysfunctional housing market.

This emotive promotion of the benefits of moving to retirement housing doesn’t exactly support our efforts to make the case for the continuation of help with home adaptations, the best and often the only housing solution for the majority of older people, particularly those on limited incomes.

Read the blog on the Care & Repair England website