Added: 12 November 2014
Surviving Winter 2014/15
The message from Suffolk Community Foundation and legendary East Anglian broadcasters Helen McDermott and Christine Webber is absolutely clear: ''If you received a Winter Fuel Payment and you don't need it, please donate it to someone who does!''
For older people in Suffolk, the need to stay warm at home is not a luxury, it's a life saver. That's why this year's appeal is challenging the people of Suffolk to join together and raise a record breaking £100,000.
You might be shocked to learn that an average of 353 vulnerable people die each year from causes directly attributed to the cold and poor living conditions. If this were a UK-wide figure it would be unacceptable, but tragically this number of deaths actually occurs just within our own county of Suffolk.
Now in its fourth year, Suffolk Community Foundation's Surviving Winter appeal has already raised over £200,000. It is distributed immediately to those most in need across Suffolk. Over 850 households have benefited when the climate is at its most harsh. Lives have already been saved, but there is much more still to do. With a target of £100,000 for this year's appeal the aim is to ensure that many more older people of our community don't suffer from the cold this winter.
Suffolk Community Foundation Chief Executive Stephen Singleton explains: "almost 30,000 households in Suffolk are still living in fuel poverty. Many suffer in silence, with no choice but to conserve what little energy they have. The majority of the most vulnerable are over 65. It is they who have the fewest options to improve their own situation, which is why it's so important that as many people as possible step up to support this year's campaign."
Helen McDermott and Christine Webber have both donated their own Winter Fuel Payments for a number of years.
Christine says "If you already have the resources to stay warm in your own home this year, then the generous donation of all or part of your Winter Fuel Payment to someone else in Suffolk will really make a difference. I do hope everyone who is in a position to help, whether they receive the Winter Fuel payment or not, will realise what a difference their contribution will make.''
Helen says "it is clearly not acceptable in 2014 for any vulnerable person in our society to go to bed cold and wake up not knowing how they are going to heat even one room within their own home. Without the support of this appeal, Surviving Winter is likely to be a real struggle."
Suffolk Community Foundation spearheads its fourth successive annual appeal in partnership with East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich Building Society and Age UK Suffolk.
Tim Holder, Development Director at Suffolk Community Foundation added that: "the strength of this partnership lies in local Suffolk-based organisations working together to co-ordinate the Surviving Winter appeal. People know that if they contribute, someone in their neighbourhood or community will benefit. It's a really simple idea that will make a huge difference to the lives of older people in our community who are vulnerable and most in need."
The money raised is distributed in partnership with Age UK Suffolk and last year went a long way in helping vulnerable older people in Suffolk keep warm throughout the winter.
The UK has one of the highest rates of winter related increases in death in Europe. Over 30,000 households in Suffolk suffer from fuel poverty, that is around 10% of all households in the county. The Surviving Winter appeal provides assistance at the very moment of crisis in someone's life.
Jim Overbury, Senior Community Involvement and Liaison Officer at Age UK Suffolk said: "Fuel poverty forces those suffering from it to make stark choices. Do I spend what I need to heat my home and fall into debt, or do I ration the energy I use and risk living in a cold damp home? Neither are positive choices and are particularly dangerous to the health and wellbeing of older people. Others spend money on fuel and reduce purchasing of other necessities, like food, again to the detriment of their health."
On receiving his grant last year Mr Brian Allan, 75, from Lowestoft commented: "You see in the papers and on the television about people who actually heat or eat and it really does apply. It was such a relief that I could now put some heat on... I felt like I'd won the lottery."
Paul Winter, Chief Executive of Ipswich Building Society said: "We are delighted to be involved once more in the Surviving Winter appeal and are very happy to welcome people into our Ipswich Building Society branches to make their donation."
Christian Bone, Head of Member and Community Services of East of England Co-Operative said: "We are pleased to support the Surviving Winter appeal again this year and we will be encouraging all our members and customers to participate and to help those in need over the winter months."
If you feel able to, Suffolk Community Foundation is asking you to pledge your Winter Fuel Payment to help those desperately in need of extra support during the winter. You can do this online at www.suffolkcf.org.uk or by calling 01473 602602. You can also make your donation by visiting your local branch of Ipswich Building Society or by filling in the coupon which will be published in The East Anglian Daily Times.