Warmer homes scheme expands its reach

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The Warmer Healthier Homes programme is teaming up with two new partners so it can help keep even more people in Nelson and Tasman warmer and healthier this winter.

Warmer Healthier Homes was initiated by the Rata Foundation in 2014 with the aim of insulating the homes of low income families for free to help improve their health. The majority of families were referred to the scheme by health professionals but this month two new organisations, Age Concern and Sexual Abuse Support and Healing (SASH), have come on board.

Warmer Healthier Homes Nelson Tasman committee chair Bill Dahlberg says health professionals have played a big part in the success of the scheme and now Warmer Healthier Homes has widened its reach by partnering community groups like Age Concern and SASH. Bill says Age Concern is a perfect partner for the scheme because they work with older residents who are often living in cold, uninsulated houses. “We thought Age Concern would be a perfect partner because they are already helping the older people we want to target.

“We want to partner with other community groups in the future, but we are only starting with two so we can manage it properly. If it goes well, other community groups will be added later.”

Age Concern manager Sue Tilby says they deal with health, neglect and abuse issues on a daily basis, and the incidence of those problems is increasing as “more and more older people stay in their homes longer”. She says teaming-up with Warmer Healthier Homes will help them resolve the winter-related health issues of a number of their clients.

“We had one lady, last year, who phoned up and said her home was so cold in winter she couldn’t get out of bed, so we visited her and found out she had a serious breathing problem because of the cold. We actually referred her on to Warmer Healthier Homes.”

Bill says the Rata Foundation has just approved another $100,000 for the scheme which is delivered through Nelson-based insulation specialists Absolute Energy. Warmer Healthier

Homes is funded by the Rata Foundation, Nelson City Council and the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, with the government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority matching that funding, dollar for dollar.

Absolute Energy’s Paul Brockie says the scheme is great value with an average cost of just $2800 to insulate each home, providing significant and immediate health benefits. “We are getting good results and they are instant and that’s what drives us,” he says.

However, Bill says they need to secure further long-term funding partners to achieve their strategic goal that Warmer Healthier Homes becomes a sustainable project.

“We’ve done over 250 homes in Nelson and Tasman, but I estimate that there are around 2000 homes in the region that are badly in need of insulation, so we still have a long way to go.”