100 ‘warm bags’ to keep winter chills at bay are being distributed to people in and around Exminster as a result of a partnership between Wales & West Utilities and Devon charity Westbank Community Health and Care (Westbank).

The bags are being distributed to people in the local community through Westbank’s recently launched Warmwell at Home initiative. Each bag contains hand warmers, a thermometer, a pair of thermal socks, a travel mug, a hat and gloves, a hot water bottle and a large blanket.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, initially donated 150 thermal hats and gloves before Christmas, which were distributed through Westbank’s food larders and warm space initiative. Now they are continuing to help keep people cosy by donating 100warm bags’ for Westbank to distribute to clients.

National Grid has provided the funding to allow the charity to buy additional heavy-weight blankets and is covering the distribution costs.

Westbank is working in collaboration with Community Support workers, GP & Health Practitioners and local primary schools to identify those who would benefit most from the extra support as temperatures drop.

Katie Elliott, Head of Fundraising and Marketing at Westbank, said:

“We were delighted to get our new Warmwell at Home initiative up and running in a short period of time and are already helping many local people. 

“We are thrilled that Wales & West Utilities has extended its support so that we can provide extra help to those most in need during the colder months.”

Warmwell at Home is run from the Howarth Room at the charity’s base in Exminster and is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 4pm. The warm space has a lounge and dining area where people can help themselves to a free bowl of nourishing soup and a hot drink and stock up on produce from the food larder and community fridge.

Louise Alfaresi, Wales & West Utilities First Line Manager for Exeter, is responsible for establishing the partnership. She said:

“We know how much difference the hats and gloves made to local people. So, when we learnt of the Warmwell at Home launch, we wanted to provide extra support, particularly with the recent cold weather.

“The Warmwell initiative provides a safe and warm space for people to drop in for as long as they want, and we hope the ‘warm bags’ extend the reach of the service by helping keep people warm in their own homes.”

Katie Elliott continued:

“On behalf of us all, I’d like to thank Wales & West Utilities for taking the time to put together the warm bags. With the cold weather returning, they will make such a difference to those who struggle to stay warm at home

The warm packs donated to Westbank by Wales and West Utilities and Wales and West Utilities' Louise Alfaresi, left, and Westbank's Katie Elliott with one of the 'warm bags'