Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) has launched this year’s Surviving Winter appeal, which encourages people who can afford it to donate some or all of their Winter Fuel Payment to help vulnerable older people in Somerset who are unable to afford to heat their homes to stay warm and well.
The cost-of-living crisis means that this winter will be one of the toughest we have faced for decades. Many older people are already extremely anxious about rising bills and around 11,000 Somerset pensioners will find themselves living in fuel poverty this year, double the number in the same situation last year. The team at Somerset Community Foundation know, from many years’ experience of running their Surviving Winter appeal, that many of the poorest pensioners may not turn their heating on at all, or will cut back on food to save money as they are forced to choose between heating and eating.
And with everyday costs like food and fuel rapidly increasing, this winter will see many of our most vulnerable older neighbours struggling to cope. Many will stay at home to save money and will find themselves cut off from family and friends.
Around 800 older people in Somerset are supported through SCF’s Surviving Winter appeal every year with a cash grant to support their energy bills. This year, the Surviving Winter grants are increasing from £300 to £500, and there will be even more help for people to buy essential items to stay warm and help make their homes more energy efficient.
For many local people who don’t need their Winter Fuel Payment, donating it to the Surviving Winter appeal is an easy way to make a huge difference to the life of one of their neighbours.
Justin Sargent, Chief Executive at Somerset Community Foundation said: “We estimate that at least 5,500 low-income pensioners in Somerset will not have enough money to afford to heat their homes sufficiently this winter. Cold weather causes hundreds of preventable deaths every year, with older people and those living in older or isolated rural homes most likely to experience the largest degree of fuel poverty.
“Thanks to the bright idea of one generous pensioner, who asked us many years ago if we could get his Winter Fuel Payment to someone who needed it, we can make sure that hundreds of older people in Somerset are being supported to stay warm, safe and well every winter through our Surviving Winter campaign.
“And we’re delighted to announce that Glastonbury Festival organiser and long-time Surviving Winter donor Michael Eavis CBE has offered his support for another year.”
Anyone who would like to donate to Surviving Winter should visit www.somersetcf.org.uk/winter or call 01749 344949. A donation form is also available to download from the Somerset Community Foundation website.
This year, alongside the Surviving Winter appeal, SCF are running the Somerset Cost-of-Living Crisis Appeal. Together, these initiatives will provide a lifeline for local people of all ages who are living in poverty. More information can be found on the SCF website.
Information on which partner organisations deliver Surviving Winter grants can also be found on Somerset Community Foundation’s website.