Local charity Somerset Community Foundation has launched its annual Surviving Winter appeal to raise vital funds for low income pensioners this winter. An estimated 10,000 pensioners in Somerset are living in fuel poverty – almost double the figure from just a year ago.
The team at the charity know, from over 10 years’ experience of running the appeal, that this winter many of the poorest pensioners will avoid putting their heating on, or they will cut back on food to save money.
With the high cost of energy and no plans for additional government help with bills this year, the charity expects huge demand for help this year.
Laura Blake, Philanthropy Director at the charity, said: “We’re gravely concerned about the number of older people who will be too frightened to put their heating on. Many of those we support have disabilities or long-term health conditions and staying warm is crucial to keeping them safe and well as the winter hits.
“We know times are tough for so many people, but if you can afford to help, your donations will be an absolute lifeline for hundreds of older people in the county.”
Around 800 older people in Somerset get help from the Surviving Winter Appeal every year, with a cash grant of up to £500 to support their energy bills. A Surviving Winter grant can also provide help for people to buy essential items to stay warm, make their homes more energy efficient, and access specialist support and social activities in their communities.
One pensioner who received a Surviving Winter grant last year, said: “I don’t know how I manage at the moment. Right now I’m overdrawn and I’m incredibly careful with what I spend – and with my heating. Even though it’s getting colder, I still don’t put it on. I’m 72 and I really feel the cold in my little place.”
Surviving Winter encourages local people to make a personal gift or donate their winter fuel payment to help older people in need. The donation will make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of local people and for many it is a lifeline.
Anyone who would like to donate to Surviving Winter should visit www.somersetcf.org.uk/winter or telephone 01749 344949 (donation lines are open Monday – Friday between 9am and 5pm).
A donation form is also available to download from the Somerset Community Foundation website, where information on which partner organisations deliver Surviving Winter grants can also be found.