Bradford District’s Warm Homes Healthy People (WHHP) Project 2012-13 proved again and again that a little goes a very long way when helping the most needy to be warm and well in the winter.
What we did
Between December 2012 – April 2013, 8,600 people accessed WHHP’s services and local activities 26,400 times, during some of the coldest weather the district has seen for several years . The range of delivery was huge including free food parcels and bedding to those in crisis; befriending and lunch clubs for the isolated elderly; temporary and permanent accommodation for the homeless; home energy audits, advice and grants for people with fuel debt; free school meals for highly vulnerable children; and numerous information roadshows. The project spent £481,149, with 65% coming from the Department of Health’s WHHP programme 31% from local Clinical Commissioning Groups and 4% from Children’s Services . The local funding significantly increased the range and scope of the project enabling many more people to be supported.
The Difference WHHP Made
The evaluation found that WHHP made a real difference, ‘giving hope’ and enabling beneficiaries to be warmer and healthier. It:
- ensured 3,000 people ate properly, by providing hot food and food parcels
- helped 2,100 people keep warm by providing clothing, duvets and other items
- enabled over 120 people to gain a permanent home or temporary accommodation
- improved health by helping 6,000 people be warmer
- enabled 300 households to better afford the energy they needed to heat their 7,300 engaged in homes by generating £25,000 of fuel savings
- reduced the isolation of 700 people who engaged with WHHP activities
- gave 3,000 people better knowledge about how to stay warm and where to get help
The project was very effective at reaching the WHHP target groups with significant take-up from older people, BME communities, people with ill health accommodation and people living in deprivation. 66% of beneficiaries using WHHP Practical Help Services were single people, reflecting the impact of recent and multiple cuts in income, isolation and access services experienced by this group. The project was particularly successful at reaching the most isolated. Only 74% of beneficiaries were previously known to providers. This reach was achieved by extensive promotion through voluntary, community and statutory networks and harnessing the knowledge of Local Activity providers.
The 1,000 people who accessed WHHP Services particularly benefited from an holistic and multifaceted approach to resolving their hardship. This was highly effective at resolving their immediate crisis and alleviating their fuel poverty. If extended to the whole project, this mixed approach of using advice and home energy audits could have potentially saved beneficiaries £1.8m in energy costs.
The project had considerable community backing and commitment. Over 60 VCS providers extensively subsidised and added value to their activities by linking their local activity or service to other programmes and engaging massive voluntary effort valued at £81,000. Overall the projected added over £400,000 of value to the £480,000 spent by funders.
Where could WHHP improve?
Some groups were under-represented particularly young adults and people with mental health problems. To ensure their engagement, planners need to involve organisations with specific remits to work with these groups.
Winter warmth and fuel poverty are issues that cross strategic agendas and are not yet adequately housed by Bradford’s strategic frameworks. To address the true levels of need, commissioners need to recognise the actual levels of benefits and cost savings winter warmth and fuel poverty work can generate and fund co-ordinated and collaborative responses.
The evaluation exposed the impact of extreme cold on the thousands of people in Bradford district living in poverty and isolation. These levels of need are beyond the ability of one, time- limited project to address. The project should break free of the arbitrary dates imposed by Department of Health funding and set up a permanent ongoing programme, supported by year round fundraising and activities that are ready to start with the onset of cold weather in November. The type of combined funding mix used this year should be retained.
Project evaluation faced real challenges caused by inconsistent and behaviour monitoring approaches which compromised the ability to produce robust findings. Moving forward a project wide evaluation framework that standardises monitoring of outcomes and data such as age and postcode, needs to be adopted, ideally early enough so they can influence planning and delivery.
Beneficiaries generally found the project’s improved referral process information effective, but these were much less effective for providers. Future systems need offer providers better filtering and increased value for money.
To avoid the fragmented management of this year and improve and co-ordinate communication, future WHHP projects require dedicated management and administration which could be met via secondment and part-time flexible arrangements to reflect fluctuating delivery across the year.
To read the evaluation and for more information please see the link below.