Man facing health problems from poor living conditions helped by fuel poverty scheme in Blackpool

  • Anthony spoke with Granada Reports journalist Claire Hannah

A man who spent the majority of winter in bed "just to keep warm" has received life-changing help from a fuel poverty scheme in.

Anthony, 48, was referred to the Warm and Healthy Homes scheme Blackpool when his GP discovered he was living without heating or hot water which had led to a number of health issues.

He lives in a one bedroom flat above a shop and said it was "a blessing" when the summer season came around as his flat stayed warm.

Anthony's flat had not been fitted with central heating and was heated using electric storage heaters, which were ineffective.

He added: "Electric storage heaters are not a realistic way of heating a property that is that big.

"I was working with something that was 20-years-old, didn't do the job, didn't keep the property warm.

"I was also dealing with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety which I was being medicated for and treated for. It all made everything worse.

"I take no pleasure in saying this, I find it embarrassing, but it resulted in me spending the majority of winter in bed, just to keep warm."

Anthony received support from Sarah Regan at Blackpool Coastal Housing. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Anthony was referred to the Warm and Healthy Homes project who installed central heating in his flat, funded by a £57,000 grant from the Cadent Foundation.

The Cadent Foundation is the charitable arm of Cadent Gas, the local gas network which manage the gas pipes in North West England.

It has announced £2 million of funding being distributed to charities across the UK, including the project in Blackpool.

Sarah Regan, a case worker for Blackpool Coastal Housing, said: "That's going to enable us to help people with their energy bills, when they haven't got food, with cooking appliances, even electric blankets."

Some parts of Blackpool are amongst the most deprived areas in the country.

When asked if £57,000 was enough, Sarah said: "I don't think anything is ever enough, is the honest answer."

The project is entering its third year and operates on referrals from the NHS, hospital discharge teams, social services and other outreach support.

But Sarah urges people to reach out if they need help.

"It takes a big step to come out and say I'm struggling," she said. "Don't be embarrassed, we've all got bills to pay and it's hard for everybody.

"We want to make sure we're reaching out to as many people and getting it to the right people."

Kevin Hegarty from the Cadent Foundation said: "Lots of people are struggling to pay their bills and we're into a period where the weather is getting colder.

"We can't be in a situation where people are making a choice between heating or eating."

Cadent Foundation say their aim is "to provide a warm and safe home for everyone" but add that other companies need to get involved to make that a reality.

"It's not just something that Cadent or Cadent Foundation can fix", Mr Hegarty added.

"There are lots of ways we can work together, we can't fix everything but we can certainly be part of the solution."

If you're struggling to pay your bills and need support, information about the Warm and Healthy Home scheme can be found here.

For support outside of Blackpool, visit the Government website.

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