Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Getting the Message Across

Our Asbestos in the Home project was launched in Leicester last year, and has been on show just a few times since – at Nottingham City Homes events and at our own conference in Derby, for example.  We need to keep on pushing the project – and in order to get the message into the public consciousness we are going to have a re-launch in Chesterfield, early next year.  This is going to cost a lot of money if we are to do it properly.  Here’s a copy of a letter that we have just sent out to trade unions in the region:

Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST) was originally established to support anyone that had been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease.  As the organisation tackled a growing number of people who were suffering from the terminal diseases of Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer, it became clear that we needed to build awareness of the dangers of asbestos too.  As was initially expected, many of those affected by asbestos had come into contact with the substance in an industrial setting – in power stations, coal mines, railway workshops and steelworks.  But just as many workers had inhaled those deadly particles in a domestic setting. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - 8 joiners, 6 electricians and 4 plumbers die every week due to asbestos exposure.   This is because the majority of houses that were constructed before 1999 contain asbestos.  90% of all public sector housing is thought to contain the substance.

In the average 20th century home, asbestos will be found around water tanks, fuse boxes, guttering, flooring and insulation among many other locations.  It remains safe as long as it is undisturbed – it is the particles that are released on movement which are dangerous.  Many professionals are now aware of the dangers and most larger employers will ensure that employees are trained to protect themselves. But we are concerned about smaller companies and the self employed.  HSE research showed that many workers thought that because asbestos is now banned, it no longer posed a danger. The growth in DIY – and the recession forcing people to try and improve their homes rather than move – also puts householders at risk.

DAST saw this need to make people aware of domestic asbestos, and we launched our Asbestos in the Home project as a result. The project consists of model houses which, with the aid of a computer programme and projector, demonstrate where asbestos could be lurking in each part of an average house.  The initial launch took place in Leicester.  The displays have also been on show in the Nottingham area, thanks to the support of union stewards at Nottingham City Homes.  But we need to keep on using the displays if we are to get the message out into the wider community.

We are therefore planning to launch it for a second time – on this occasion we will be targeting Chesterfield and northern Derbyshire.  We wish to hire rooms at the Winding Wheel for one day, and invite the general public as well as local trade union representatives and members of local government.   We will need to publicise this in the local press as well as pay for technical support and refreshments.  It is therefore an expensive activity and we are seeking grants and sponsors for this event, which we are scheduling for early spring 2015.

I would like to ask if the xxx can consider sponsoring this event.  A donation of £100 would be very welcome and we would ensure that your logo appeared in the programme and a projection screen. I would also like to ask if this letter could be distributed to Derbyshire branches. This is primarily as part of the awareness drive – but any donation that they could also consider making towards the Chesterfield launch would be very welcome.

I hope that you can help us to keep workers and DIY enthusiasts safe in the home.

Do you know of anyone who might want to be a sponsor?    Have you got any more ideas on how we can get this project equipment on show in new places?
Please tell us!