Home is where the health is

A FREE health check for your home could boost your own wellbeing and even open the way to free repairs or improvements.

Thurrock Council is offering that chance to people living in private sector property in parts of three wards: Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park, Grays Riverside, and West Thurrock and South Stifford. The areas were selected because they are more likely to be affected by health risks – such as fuel poverty and overcrowding.

Over the next 12 months an adviser working for the council’s Well Homes project will contact residents in the pilot areas, offering to assess potential risks to their health or wellbeing in their home. These problems could include leaking roofs and inadequate heating.

The adviser, Claire Clark, (CORR), (left in photo) will direct residents to agencies that can offer further advice and information on specific problems.

Employed by the Papworth Trust, a charity for disabled and older people, the adviser will be wearing Well Homes-branded clothing and have ID cards issued by the council.

Depending on their circumstances, owner-occupiers might qualify for council funding to fix some problems. The adviser can also arrange for the council’s private housing team to contact landlords on behalf of tenants to inform them that repairs or improvements are needed.

Thurrock Council housing director Barbara Brownlee (right in photo) said: “It’s not just eating lots of fruit and veg and regular exercise that keep us hale and hearty. Research shows that good quality homes can also help keep us out of the GP surgery or hospital.”

She continued: “By improving health and promoting wellbeing, the Well Homes project could reduce demand for health and social care services – good news for individuals and families and for the taxpayer.”

Residents will also have the chance to discuss other issues affecting their wellbeing. The Well Homes adviser can tell people where to get information or support for problems such as debt worries or stopping smoking. In some cases, the council can refer the household to the relevant service – with their agreement.

The council’s public health team has contributed to the cost of the initial survey work.

Thurrock Council’s head of public health, Debbie Maynard, said: “We look to our homes to provide us with warmth, protection and a sense of security. We know that good housing can improve health across all age groups. This is particularly true however for older people and people with long term conditions.”

Everyone taking part in the project has the chance to enter a monthly draw to save £50 off their gas or electricity bill.

More than 80 per cent of homes in Thurrock are in private ownership. Meanwhile, the numbers of people renting in the private sector has risen steadily recently.

The council will evaluate the results of the pilot but it hopes to extend the project across the borough.

To find out if you are eligible for a free home health check, for more information or to ask the adviser to visit your home please call the Well Homes team on 0300 33365453, email wellhomes@papworth.org.uk or visit the council’s website at www.thurrock.gov.uk/wellhomes

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