Recently, we at the Glasgow Access Panel secured funding for what we feel is a crucial project for disabled and older people: one we hope organisations across the country will consider implementing in their own areas.

It is generally understood that in colder weather, older people are at a greater risk of ill-health, and many long-term conditions are more difficult to manage in lower temperatures. Disability can also prevent individuals from leaving their homes – a situation we are all now better acquainted with - which can also impact fuel costs within households.

We became aware of a social enterprise called ‘Feel the Warmth’, manufacturing wearable heating belts (kidney warmers) which safely and inexpensively help to maintain a user’s core body temperature, alleviating a number of health issues and reducing the need for more expensive and inefficient means of heating homes.

Our project has enabled us to supply disabled and older people in Glasgow with infrared kidney warmers and power banks to address these issues.

So far, beneficiaries range in age from late twenties up to 92 years old, representing a wide variety of impairments including cerebral palsy (causing circulation issues and difficulty maintaining/regulating body temperature), arthritis, spinal injuries, chronic pain and many more. The kidney warmers also help to maintain core temperature when out and about, as the unit can run for hours on a small power bank and fits easily under clothes, which is proving very beneficial for some of our members who are wheelchair users and struggle to maintain a comfortable core temperature when outside.

Feel the Warmth have been a pleasure to work with throughout our project, helping us to accommodate the varying needs of our service users. We hope more organisations are able to secure funding for similar projects to ensure that as many people have access to these health benefits and reduced fuel costs as possible.

Glasgow Access Panel Providing older and disabled people with infrared kidney warmers

During 2019 the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Forensic Services Team trialled the Feel the Warmth heat belts. Our Scene Examination staff, who work outwith the office, used the heat belts and noticed that they were able to work outside more comfortably for longer periods of time particularly maintaining heat in their hands and feet. Staff reported generally felt better at the end of a shift with less stress on their body as a result of not feeling cold. On the strength of this trial SPA Forensic Service purchased heat belts for all scene attending staff.

AmyPolice Scotland

It wasn’t as though I felt any direct heat emanating from the Feel the Warmth belt at any point, it was more that I realised at the end of a very cold day in the mountains on my bike that hadn’t at any point experienced that deep down cold you get when you stop and start all the time. My temperature had been regulated very subtly which is exactly what you want from a product like this.

Lee CraigieAdventure Syndicate

I had the chance to be fitted with a Heat Belt and within minutes felt the gentle, comforting warm that the small unobtrusive battery provided. I was amazed at the radiating warmth that the belt enabled throughout my body. And with a full battery on the low setting (and that was all I needed) it will cost me 16p per day. That's going to make a big dent in my heating bills since I'll be turning it down a notch or two. I should explain, I have a very challenging condition called Reynauds. Check it out on google; you find out that it means painful, very cold extremities that are prone to ulcers which can lead to amputation in severe cases. This product is a revolutionary advance for the care of people with this condition, Systemic Sclerosis (which I also have), Fibromyalgia, MS and the frail and elderly, many more; Hill Walkers, Sailors, RNLI volunteers..........the list is endless.

Marie Gray

My back was playing up while on holiday but the heated belt really helped, used up both batteries while out for a few of the days then charged them up overnight. Next job is to adapt the 12v charger to work on the bike.

Mark Forrest