Amrit Kaur from the Sikh Elders Service introduces the Winter Warmth scheme and shares some advice on staying warm and well as the weather gets colder…

Cold homes and dark winter months have a significant impact on people’s health. One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during winter is to stay warm.
Staying warm over the colder months is a good preventative measure against colds, flu or more serious conditions such as heart attacks, pneumonia and depression.
The chances of these problems are higher if you are vulnerable to cold related illnesses because of one or more of the following:

  • you’re over 65
  • you’re on a low income (so can’t afford heating)
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as heart, lung or kidney disease
  • you are disabled.

Often older people fall into more than one of these categories and energy bills can leave you feeling understandably nervous about turning up the heating. Receiving an unexpectedly big bill at the end of the month or year can be a daunting prospect for anyone.
The Sikh Elders Service knows this can be a challenging time for older people, especially for those most at risk from social isolation. Our winter wellbeing scheme will enable specially trained volunteers to deliver a winter warmth campaign over the coldest months of January to March ensuring older people from BME communities have access to a culturally appropriate hot meal and their essential shopping.
Accessing schemes such as this can help reduce risk, as well as act as a welcome tonic against loneliness. Add these top tips to keep warm this winter without breaking the bank.

Warm up

  • Your body stays warm by burning food that you eat. Have regular hot meals such as porridge with hot milk, soups and stews. Eastern dishes making use of trinity roots (onion, garlic, ginger) and turmeric, such as dal or chickpeas are very nutritious and increase your defences against the cold.
  • Wear several thin layers rather than one big coat. These trap warm air close to your body.
  • Make sure you have good shoes to prevent falls if you do venture outside, as well as keeping the heat in.
  • Wear warm clothes in bed. Make use of thermal underwear and even a hat to stay warm.
  • Draw the curtains to stop heat escaping and keep windows and internal doors closed keeping the heat inside, where you need it.

Long term solutions

  • Check out benefits and grants available to help with insulation and energy efficiency. Age UK have a great guide.
  • Charities such as Groundwork can help you switch energy supplier – it’s worth finding out if you can save money. Find out more.
  • Have the heating system serviced.
  • Get a keyhole cover – this is an inexpensive way of keeping out the draughts.

Stock up

It can put your mind at rest just knowing you have supplies for the winter months. If you can try have a stock of tinned fruit and vegetables, dried goods such as rice and salt for icy steps and pathways. It is also a good idea to have a supply of all your medicines, just in case you run out.
If you are someone, or know someone, particularly at risk it is worth referring into one of the many winter warmth schemes in Leeds.
For information on Sikh Elders Winter Wellbeing campaign please call 0113 216 3143 or email