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Surviving Winter Campaign launches today

Nov 12, 2015

Surviving Winter 2015 Launches

This year’s Surviving Winter campaign, the scheme through which people who receive the Winter Fuel Payment but do not need it, can donate it to help others in greater need, is needed more than ever. Last winter almost 600 people in Somerset, most of them aged 65 or older, died as a result of the cold weather during winter. Beneath the surface hundreds more pensioners suffer hardship and ill health as they struggle to meet the cost of staying warm.

The provisional ‘excess winter deaths’ data, which was provided by the public health team in Somerset County Council, is almost double the average for Somerset for last winter, reflecting national trends. It is a complex issue, but poverty and poor housing are a critical factor and that is why Somerset Community Foundation is launching its sixth award-winning Surviving Winter campaign.

Within Somerset, it is estimated there are almost 5,000 pensioner households living in fuel poverty and the impact of cold weather and cold homes brings unseen misery and suffering to hundreds of people in our communities. Cold weather has a particularly severe impact on illnesses associated with growing older such as respiratory and circulatory conditions.

People who are struggling to heat their homes are also more likely suffer from anxiety or depression and frequently become more isolated and lonely. The financial burden can reduce some to living in one room, going to bed during the day, or making the choice between heating and eating.

The first Surviving Winter appeal was launched in 2010 after one of Somerset Community Foundation’s donors offered to give the equivalent of his Winter Fuel Payment to help local pensioners struggling with the cost of staying warm and healthy. This simple idea has since gone on to become a national award winning programme.  During the 2014/15 winter over £83,000 was raised in donations and match funding.  This year we are aiming for £90,000. To help over 600 vulnerable pensioner households in Somerset. 

 Kit Chapman MBE, a well-known author and owner of the Castle Hotel in Taunton, shared his reasons for supporting the appeal. “I’ve willingly surrendered my Winter Fuel Allowance to the Somerset Community Foundation for several years now. I just feel uncomfortable taking advantage of a state hand-out when my family and I are fortunate enough to afford a well heated and cosy home! Too many good people in our county are not in such a happy position. So, I appeal to everyone as fortunate as me to pause for a moment and support SCF’s Surviving Winter campaign”.

The grants are distributed through a number of partners working directly with communities ensuring funds reach those most in need when they need it.

Justin Sargent said, "The Surviving Winter appeal only exists because better-off donors want to use their Winter Fuel Payment to help others, and we provide a simple but effective way for them to make a difference. We appeal to anyone who feels they could support us for this very urgent need to act now so that we can be ready for the cold months ahead.”

To find out how to donate, click here


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