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Healthy homes fund helps improve lives of people with mental ill-health

A GB-wide scheme to help people who couldn’t afford to keep warm at home has made a positive impact for those with mental health illnesses.

National Energy Action’s (NEA), Health and Innovation Programme, provided heating, insulation and energy efficiency measures for households most at risk of fuel poverty or cold-related illness, through health and housing partnerships and home improvement agencies.

From having central heating installed, often for the first time, to smaller measures such as boiler repairs, people from across England, Wales and Scotland benefited from the scheme.

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive at National Energy Action, said: “We partnered with local delivery agents to effectively target those in most need. As a result, we’ve helped touch the lives of some of those struggling with mental ill-health. Studies have found that in particular, stress, anxiety and depression can be exacerbated by living in cold temperatures. Then on top of that, struggling with paying bills and falling into debt can have further detrimental effects.”

“It’s something that we want to highlight this Mental Health Awareness Week, as it’s an effect of mental health illness that is not very well known.”

NEA was able to fund ‘large’ measures, such as installing central heating but also aided some households with ‘small’ measures, which included loft insulation, draught proofing, radiator panels, low-energy light bulbs and boiler repairs.

One householder, Paul, told NEA the about the impact that struggling with his unmanageable budget had had upon his life and mental well-being: “Well I have a fortnightly injection, and it makes you cold, it makes you hungry…. I didn’t have the money to put money on the gas, I was always, like, robbing Peter to pay Paul as it were…so it was a case of…just trying to keep warm and comfortable. But I tended to spend a lot of time in bed…if you’re already suffering from depression, that’s not a place you wanna be.”

Before receiving NEA support, almost half of those surveyed (44.7%) felt that the inability to keep homes comfortably warm affected their mental health.

Since receiving support however over one-third felt that their mental health had improved. Similarly, 43.7% of householders had experienced an improvement in existing health conditions (including a mental health condition), of which 51.4% felt this was linked to receiving help.

Altogether over 9,000 households have received at least one measure (exceeding our target by 36%).

For more details on the fund go to http://www.nea.org.uk/hip/