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9th March 2023

Keeping Warm with Carr Gomm

By Sophie Hibbert

Keep Warm Boxes

From Rabbie Burns to Rab C Nesbit, it is well established that Scotland can be a cold and beautiful place. A land where the balance between nature and community is as vital as it is definitive. One of the joys of working with home care providers across the UK and Ireland is that we get to interact with and learn from people in a wide variety of worlds. Recently we learned of a crucial campaign being run by Carr Gomm alongside the Argyll and Bute services.

We caught up with the campaign organiser, Denise Murdoch, to learn more about their ‘Keep Warm Boxes’ and the impact it’s having on the community.

We caught up with the campaign organiser, Denise Murdoch, to learn more about their ‘Keep Warm Boxes’ and the impact it’s having on the community.

No Cold Approach

Denise is the Senior Operations Manager of Carr Gomm’s teams in Highland and Argyll & Bute. Over the past few months she noticed that power cuts and rising fuel prices were impacting the people in her area.

“One of the staff called me in the morning and said they were called out to an elderly gentleman during the night who had fallen out of bed,” explained Denise. “By the time they got to him his legs were blue with the cold! So the first thing they did after checking him over was say ‘We’re going to put your heating on in your bedroom.’ He said; ‘No, don’t, because I’ve got a bill there for £300.’ You know the way you can get government help excetera, that didn’t matter to him. All he saw was this bill for £300 and didn’t know how he was going to pay it. So his first reaction to that was to turn his heating off.”

Denise knew she had to act. Heating everyone’s homes wasn’t an option, unfortunately. Most of the people who use Carr Gomm’s care in the area have warm beds, but Denise did not like the prospect of confining people to them for even longer. It was her goal to help people stay warm during the day, and to prepare them for future power cuts.

The Care O’Loves

This inspired Denise to create ‘Warm Boxes,’ support packages filled with useful items to help people stay warm. She had to create her own solutions since there were no existing options.

“Carr Gomm have Carr Gomm Futures and it’s [a source of] money that’s been fundraised. It’s for staff to apply for initiatives. I applied and they awarded me £3000, which was a lot of money! But there are six localities in Argyll and Bute. So that was £500 per locality. We started buying the items. In each box we put a warm blanket, a hat, a flask, a torch, socks, and gloves, if required.”

It was time for Denise to spread the word, but she wasn’t quite prepared for the response she got.

Keep Warm Boxes Argyll & Bute

“We put it up on social media and it turned into nearly a full time job for the first two weeks with requests. The requests are coming from dementia workers, advocates, social workers. What surprised us was neighbours referring people, what surprised us was how many people don’t receive support.

“So we started delivering the boxes and it’s just been overwhelming. It’s been quite an eye opener to how many different types of people have requested a warm box.”

Denise and her team are committed to supporting their community, and have delivered Warm Boxes to a huge range of people in need of support. Their goal being to be prepared for what’s coming and not just responsive to what has happened.

Gifted

Cold snaps and power cuts make for a deadly combination. A reality heightened by the constant focus on rising energy bills in the media.

“People tend to, when there’s a power cut, they react. So it’s all; ‘Oh where was the torch? Oh there’s no batteries in it. Where are those extra blankets?’ So it’s about preparing for things like a power cut.

“So it’s the eventualities of, say, you live in a big old house that’s draughty and not thinking that a hot water bottle would be a good idea to have or an extra blanket. Put on an extra pair of socks, put on a hat and reserve some of your body heat.”

Keep Warm Inforgraphic

Denise and Carr Gomm are working hard to provide their community with access to these ‘Keep Warm Boxes.’ They are available on request for anyone in the area, without means testing. The focus is on supporting those in need and in several circumstances it has been caring neighbours and relatives who have requested boxes on behalf of people they know.

“We are now hoping if we can get more funding, that we have extra boxes in each locality, so they can just get out to people as soon as something happens. Now just as we’re making up boxes, people are asking for them. So my wish is that we have up to six boxes in each locality ready.”

How to Get Involved with Keep Warm Boxes

You can request a ‘Keep Warm Box’ by emailing: warmbox@carrgomm.org

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