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Breathe easy this winter – join in with #Scarfie

Health professionals across mid and south Essex are encouraging people with respiratory conditions to stay well this winter by joining in with new campaign #Scarfie launching this winter.

Children at Richard De Clare Primary School Halstead

Across the NHS, admissions to hospital for respiratory illness increase from 1,000 a day to 2,000 a day between November and February.1

#Scarfie hopes to encourage people with Asthma, COPD and other respiratory illnesses to wear a scarf this winter to ease their breathing and keep well.

Dr Ahmed Mayet, local GP and Clinical Lead for Planned Care at Mid Essex CCG said: “By wearing a scarf, people warm up their breath before it goes into their lungs and can help to ease any respiratory conditions from getting worse in the colder weather.

“In mid Essex 752 people attended A&E due to respiratory problems and of these 423 people were ambulanced to hospital last winter. This simple tip could help many people stay well this winter.”

23,614 people living in mid Essex have a recorded diagnosis of Asthma and 5,949 with a recorded diagnosis of COPD.2

#Scarfie, an Asthma UK campaign, encourages people to share a selfie of them wearing scarves on social media.

Sonia Munde, Head of Asthma UK Helpline and Nurse Manager, said: “During the winter people are at greater risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack due to seasonal triggers such as cold air and cold and flu viruses.

“Wrapping a scarf loosely around your mouth and nose warms up the air before you breathe it in, which can reduce your risk of an asthma attack. More than 72,000 people in mid and south Essex have asthma and this could help them to stay safe this winter. We’d encourage anyone with asthma who needs further information and support to contact Asthma UK’s Helpline, which is staffed by nurses on 0300 222 5800 or visit www.asthma.org.uk”

The local voluntary services have been working with local knitting groups and other volunteers to make or bring scarves to give away for free this winter. Local schools, sports groups, patient groups and hospitals are also joining in the campaign to help keep people well this winter.

Giant scarves have also been placed on a number of high profile landmarks across mid and south Essex to help raise awareness of the #scarfie campaign.

Pauline Pickering, Volunteer Centre Manager at Chelmsford Centre Supporting Voluntary Action said: “We’ve been so excited to get involved in #Scarfie – our knitting group is always happy to support great local projects and this one helped many people to see the benefits of using a scarf to protect themselves.”

Pauline and her Knit and Natter group produced 44 individual scarves which when tacked together measured approx. 135 feet – the size of 14 double decker buses stacked on top of one another.

Scarves will be donated to local foodbanks and homeless charities across mid Essex to help those in need stay well this winter.

Maggie Drewett, of Braintree Area Foodbank said: “We’re so thankful to all the wonderful knitters and the local NHS who have got behind #Scarfie. The scarves donated to us will form part of our warm and homeless packs for people across Braintree, Halstead and Witham who come into our centres in crisis - that often includes both food and fuel poverty, or who are homeless - they will make a big difference this winter.”

Information about #Scarfie and staying well over the winter is available on all CCG and Hospital Trust websites across mid and south Essex and being shared with all GP practices and other health and care professionals.

Anyone can get involved in #Scarfie - all you need to do is take a selfie with a scarf covering your nose and mouth and post to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #Scarfie.