Call to help the frail in big freeze

AS the bitterly cold winter today continues to take hold, now is the time to consider the vulnerable people living in our county.

SUFFOLK: As a bitterly cold winter today continues to take hold, now is the time to consider the vulnerable people living in our county.

Most of us will deal capably with the freezing weather and treacherous conditions - but there are some who risk not making it through the chill.

With predictions of more snow to come and relentless subzero temperatures continuing for up to a month, campaign groups are urging the people of Suffolk to intensify the good will shown in recent weeks and consider the frailer or less mobile among us.

Snowstorms are predicted to sweep across the region again today and with no let up to the cold snap in sight, there are fears some older people will be forced to cut back on basics and heating in the face of high electricity and gas bills.

Daphne Savage of Age Concern Suffolk said avoiding a fall was a major concern for older people when venturing out on slippery pavements.

“A fall may cause pain and distress and also a stay in hospital, especially if a person fractures a limb or a hip,” she said.

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“But the worst effect of a fall is when it causes the older person to lose their confidence and often, therefore, their independence.

“So ask a relative, friend or a neighbour to run that errand rather than risk a fall.

“Pride is more easily mended than a broken hip.”

Few have avoided the effects of the cruel weather, with council chiefs and businesses now starting to count the cost as the county becomes accustomed to dealing with the erratic surges of snow seen in the last few weeks.

Nearly a million pounds has been spent on keeping gritters on the roads every day since the first severe snowfall in December 17.

Meanwhile, Mike Sorhaindo, manager at Ipswich's Tower Ramparts shopping centre, admitted trade in the town was likely to suffer.

“It's fair to say that, because of the snow, people are less keen to venture out so undoubtedly there will be a lot of shoppers who may have intended to make a trip to Ipswich but will instead stay at home.

“Most retailers had a very brisk spell of trade from Boxing Day until now but many rely not only on shoppers but workers visiting in their lunch breaks who may choose not to.”

Although Suffolk has so far avoided the very worst of the weather, snow is likely to become mainly confined to the south-east today with widespread ice expected to disrupt transport.

Flash warnings have been issued for the East of England by The Met Office, which predicts more outbreaks of snow and has advised people to keep abreast of traffic disruption on the roads.