Keep well in winter
Stay well this winter
There are little things we can all do to take care of ourselves over the colder months. Here's some information and advice on how to stay well, heat our homes better, minimise costs as well as access support as needed.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a vulnerable or elderly person who may not be coping during this cold weather, please call Tower Hamlets Connect on 0300 303 6070.
If you are concerned about a homeless person during the winter months, please check our tips on ways you can help and use the StreetLink website.
You can also view our Keeping Well in Winter booklet.
Know when and how to contact the NHS
Your local pharmacy can help give advice for a range of minor illnesses like
- colds and blocked noses
- constipation and piles
- aches and pains
- indigestion and more.
You may not always need to go to your GP's surgery to get help. You can either call the surgery or visit your GP’s website where you can fill out a short questionnaire. The GP can then arrange either a call or face-to-face appointment for you depending on what you need.
Visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
111.nhs.uk can tell you:
- where to get help for your symptoms
- how to find general health information and advice
- where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
- how to get a repeat prescription
- If you are experiencing an illness or injury which you have not experienced before
- If you are unsure whether your medical condition requires you to go to A&E
- You don’t have a GP to call and require some medical advice.
Call 999 in a medical or mental health emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, this could include
- difficulty in breathing
- chest pain
You can download the NHS app from The App store or Google Play.
On the NHS app you can:
- Book appointments with your GP
- Order repeat prescriptions
- Access your GP record
- Access your Covid-19 vaccination status.
Make sure you get your flu jab
The best time to have the flu vaccine is in the autumn before flu starts spreading. But you can get the vaccine at any point during the winter.
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It's offered every year on the NHS t o help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
You can also ask your pharmacist what medicines you should have at home if you feel unwell during the winter.
Find your local pharmacy
Find out more about the:
Children can catch and spread flu easily. Vaccinating them also protects others who are vulnerable to flu, such as babies and older people.
Children between 2 and 14 years old (Year 9) can get a free flu vaccine. This will help protect them against the flu. Parents must consent for their child to have the nasal spray before it can be given.
Those who are eligible:
- all children aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
- all primary school aged children (from reception to Year 6)
- years 7, 8 and 9 in secondary school aged children.
GP's will contact parents of children aged 2 and 3 to book an appointment.
Parents of children in reception through to year 9, attending school will receive a consent form from school. This is where the immunisation will take place. Children who do not attend school will be offered an appointment at a community clinic.
Most children will be given a nasal spray vaccine. It is quick, painless and more effective than the injection when it comes to stopping the virus from passing on to others.
This won’t be suitable for all children since the nasal spray contains a small amount of porcine gelatine. This is why an alternative injectable vaccine, containing no pork or other animal products, will also be available.
If you are 65 or over, you are eligible for the pneumococcal vaccine, which will help protect you from pneumonia.
Protect yourself against Covid-19
The Covid vaccine is being offered for free to those most vulnerable to serious illness and hospitalisation. It is currently being offered to:
- residents in a care home for older adults
- all adults aged 65 years and over
- people aged 6 months to 64 years in a clinical risk group
- pregnant women
- frontline health and social care workers
- people aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
- people aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults
For more information on eligibility and how to book, visit the NHS.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2023 to 2024 under the warm home discount scheme. Contact your supplier to find out.
This money is not paid to you – it is a one-off discount on your electricity bill.
There are two ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme
Pre-pay or Pay-as-you-go meters
You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter. Your electricity supplier can you tell you how you can get the discount if you are eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.
Keeping and staying warm
It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.
There are a number of warm hubs throughout the borough that will be providing a warm space with hot drinks, squash and biscuits. Staff will help signpost people to advice and support services.
- Set your heating: keep warm by setting your heating to the right temperature (18-21°C).
- Take care of those close to you: Look out for friends, family and neighbours who may be vulnerable to the cold. Keep an eye out for each other and where possible, call in to check those most vulnerable are OK.
- House maintenance: think about what may be impacted by strong winds or flooding – guttering, pipes, roof tiles/slates, garden items and things stored on your ground floor. Check your pipes are insulated and know where your water stop tap is. Learn how to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating and keep up with your energy bills by reading the keep well, keep warm guidance.
- Stock-up on basics: make sure you have basic supplies in case you have to leave home quickly or your power and water are disrupted. Speak to your pharmacist about medicines you can stock up on, treatment options for coughs and colds and minor injuries.
- Use appliances wisely: contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure they’re operating properly and ensure appliances are checked regularly.
- Eat well: regular hot meals and drinks helps keep your energy levels up. Try to make sure you continue eating five fruits and vegetables a day.
- Stay active: exercise is always good for you and can help keep you warm. Even if you are indoors, moderate exercise can bring health benefits.
- Layer up: wear a few layers of thin clothing rather than one thick layer, and when you need to go outside wear shoes with slip resistant and good grip soles.
- Insulate your hot water tank: this will only cost about £10 and you'll get your money back in under a year. Set the thermostat on the hot water tank to 60°C / 140°F
- Radiator shelves and reflectors: putting radiator reflectors or kitchen foil behind the radiator can help heat reflect into a room rather than being lost to the wall or the ceiling.
- Room heaters: if you need an individual room heater for additional heat, or if you do not have central heating, the most efficient type is a thermostatically controlled convector heater with timer.
- Prepare your vehicles: top up anti-freeze screen wash, check your tyres and think about a winter kit for your vehicle.
See more tips on staying warm, money saving tips or visit our energy efficiency page.
This year has seen an increase in the number of people experiencing isolation due to household lockdowns and social distancing. Many organisations have risen to the challenge by mobilising volunteers to provide much-needed social contacts as well as other essentials.
You can read more information on local services and support on our Tackling Loneliness page.
Taking Care of Your Mind
Winter and the stress that comes along with it can be hard on our mental health. There are many things we can do to take care of our minds and support people around us.
Tower Hamlets Recovery College offers courses on a range of mental health and wellbeing topics for people who live or work in Tower Hamlets. Each course is free and allows up to 12 students. Sign up for the courses.
There are a range of different NHS services in Tower Hamlets that can be helpful depending on how you are thinking and feeling. To learn more visit:
You might be worried about a loved one’s mental health and wondering how to check in with them. Try using this conversation starter resource.
If you ever feel in crisis, or are fearful for your own, or someone else’s safety, please call the Tower Hamlets emergency mental health crisis line, available 24/7 on 0800 073 0003.
Samaritans is a confidential support service for anyone experiencing distress or despair. Call 116 123 for free.
Shout is a free, 24/7 confidential and anonymous service, with trained volunteers to listen and provide support. You can text the word ‘SHOUT’ for free to 85258 if you’re feeling low, anxious, overwhelmed or not quite feeling yourself.
We have a winter service procedure in place to deal with frost, hoar frost and snow fall. Find out more on our winter weather and gritting page.
Bad weather shouldn't usually affect your normal collection day but in extreme cases, it might not be possible.
We will reschedule your collection and attempt to pick up the relevant waste items once the weather improves.
If your waste still hasn't been collected, you can report it to us.