RCT partnership to help increase carbon monoxide awareness amongst communities

Written by on 13th June 2022

A partnership led by Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has received funding to help reach people with significant life challenges in the Lower Cynon area to increase their awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The pilot project in Lower Cynon area will allow partners including the Neighbourhood Network, Citizens Advice and local community groups to provide advice, information and carbon monoxide alarms to prevent exposure to the dangerous gas.

The funding will allow partners to reach local people by training more of their own staff, hosting community events, utilising existing community settings and developing specific, targeted literature.

The partnership was launched at a community event, led by Forget Me Not Productions. Involving fun sessions of arts and crafts and music, participants spent time jamming and jingle writing to the theme of carbon monoxide and came up with a jingle ‘CO Busters’.

Carbon monoxide (CO), known as the ‘silent killer’ because you can’t see it, smell it or taste it, kills 50 people a year in England and Wales and hospitalises many more. In the UK, there are more than 4,000 visits to Accident and & Emergency for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning – which can often lead to lasting neurological damage. Even low levels of exposure over an extended period can cause serious health issues, including brain injuries.

Gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, has provided over £28,000 funding as part of its Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA).

The project will take place in and around the village of Penrhiwceiber, situated in the Lower Cynon area of Rhondda Cynon Taf. It will target the communities of Mountain Ash, Fernhill, Miskin, Penrhiwceiber, Perthcelyn, Tyntetown and Abercynon.

Louise Davies, Director of Public Health, Protection & Community Services at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said:

“This pilot has been developed in response to findings that indicate education, economic and health inequalities exist in the Lower Cynon area.

“We know for many individuals with significant life challenges, such as physical and learning disabilities, employment issues and those on low incomes, safety concerns such as carbon monoxide risk awareness, are often not a consideration. 

“This project aims to tackle this head on and raise levels of CO awareness in the area.

“It’s great that Wales & West Utilities is supporting our efforts by providing this funding and we are hopeful that many people will benefit.”

Tom Robinson, Social Obligations Specialist at Wales & West Utilities, said:

“We’ve committed this funding to allow Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council to work with their network of partners to provide vital carbon monoxide safety information to local people.

“We have the support of our customers and other stakeholders to commit to doing what we can to support those most in need in our communities. Working with trusted partners means we are able to help more people stay safe in their own homes.”

Between April 2021 to March 2026, Wales & West Utilities has £7m to spend on projects which support consumers in vulnerable situations and raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide and keep people safe from the ‘silent killer’.

Funding is made from the Vulnerability and Carbon Monoxide Allowance (VCMA), and 75% of the money will be spent on projects relevant to Wales and south west England only, while 25% will be spent on collaborative projects with the other gas networks across the whole of the UK.

If you have a project that you think Wales & West Utilities could support, either individually or collaboratively with other gas networks, then contact Wales & West Utilities at VCMA@wwutilities.co.uk.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, brings energy to 7.5m people across the south west of England and Wales. If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call us on 0800 111 999 straight away, and our engineers will be there to help any time of day or night. Before visiting, we’ll ask you to let us know if you or anyone in your household, is experiencing Coronavirus symptoms or self-isolating. We’ll still come and help you: but our teams will take some additional precautions to keep us all safe.

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