The dangers of icy and wet footpaths can result in older and vulnerable people being left stranded in their homes during bad weather. Living Streets is urging councils and businesses to grit pavements outside of homes and on high streets this winter.

Just 62 per cent of councils in England and Wales will be equipping their staff with salt for street cleaners to spread on pavements, and one council in Scotland has said it's "not possible” to grit all roads and footpaths. Living Streets want more councils and businesses to help grit pavements before icy weather hits. 

Snow Angels

Councils have a legal duty to ensure that safe movement along the footway is not endangered by snow or ice. Living Streets wants to see:

  • Clear pavements and paths serving key local destinations; given at least the same priority as key roads in relevant plans and winter maintenance schedules;
  • Contractors unable to carry out their main jobs in bad weather sent to help clear icy pavements;
  • Councils helping residents do their bit by making sure grit is available, encouraging people to clear the street outside their property and helping organise volunteer teams of Snow Angels.

Snow Angels are people who help to clear snow and ice from pavements for local neighbours and relatives who may not be able to do it themselves.               

Alan Benson is a wheelchair user. He finds getting around in icy weather very difficult and in the past has not left his home for a month due to a fear of falling out of his chair.

Alan Benson says:

“I had my very own Snow Angel once; I don’t think they even realised. I lived in a block of flats and one winter it snowed heavily. It was particularly treacherous and very nasty. Someone kept clearing the outside path from the front door so I could get out. I’m forever grateful; it was such a generous act.

“I think it would be great if people became Snow Angels this winter. It can make such a difference to people’s lives.”

 

Vulnerable pedestrians can be confined to their homes in bad weather

 

Sophie, Michael and Hannah Thompson are Snow Angels in their village, just outside Elgin in Scotland. Together with their dad, Chris, they clear paths with a homemade, push-along plough.

Chris Thompson says:

“The children push the plough about 100 metres up and down our street to help clear access to our elderly neighbours’ houses.

“They know how the snow and ice can create problems for our neighbours and stop them going out to the shops or to see friends. They like to help me as much as they can to make sure they can still get out and about in the bad weather. Plus, they enjoy being able to build a much bigger snowman with the snow they collect.”

 

The Thompson Snow Angels

 

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets, said:

"Each year thousands of people in the UK are admitted to hospital after slipping on ice or snow. This prevents a lot of people from leaving the house during bad weather, which can result in loneliness and all the health problems associated with not being fit and active."

We hear a lot about the importance of gritting and making roads safe for drivers, but pavements and walkers are often overlooked. This winter, we are urging not only the government to ensure these people are not forgotten, but also asking everybody to think about their neighbours.

Joe Irvin, Chief Executive, Living Streets
Snowflake

Could you become a snow angel and help ensure paths are kept clear for people this winter?

Be a Snow Angel

Sources

Two-thirds of people aged over-65 said they don’t go out because they’re worried about slipping and falling on ice or wet ground, according to Independent Age research in 2015

LGA’s Winter Readiness survey

In 2016-17, 1,898 people in England were admitted to hospital after a fall on ice or snow, Hospital Admitted Patient Care Activity, 2016-17: External Causes, NHS Digital