WITH winter under way in earnest, vulnerable people across North Yorkshire are being urged to take advantage of an innovative scheme to beat the cold.

People are being urged to come forward who might be eligible for help under the “Hotspots” scheme.

It works by helping older people and those on a low income to access services which make a real difference in the cold weather and North Yorkshire County Council, which is spearheading the scheme, has been awarded funding by the Department of Health.

Hotspots acts as an early warning system by identifying people at risk. It is a multi-agency venture involving the council and Yorkshire Energy Partnership, along with a number of other partners.

Based on a referral system the scheme has two main aims; to create an awareness of the risks of cold weather and fuel poverty among both staff and the community at large and to involve frontline staff in identifying people at risk.

Trained to be alert to the dangers of cold to vulnerable householders, staff can then set up an initial screening, with the option of referring them for support and specialist advice. People can also self-refer.

Referral will set in motion energy efficiency advice, assessment for eligibility for home improvement and insulation schemes, benefits entitlement checks and a home safety check.

“There are potentially thousands of residents who can benefit from this scheme,” said the county’s executive member for health and adult services Clare Wood.

People who would like to find out more about the scheme or know of somebody who would benefit from it, can contact the Hotspots team on 01904-545020.