Surviving Winter appeal key as cold weather looms
Temperatures in Somerset will plummet this week during the first significant cold snap of the winter, leaving the thousands of elderly Somerset residents suffering from fuel poverty facing a cold and miserable start to the New Year. Our Surviving Winter appeal aims to help keep people warm by encouraging those who can afford to ‘recycle’ their Winter Fuel Payment to donate it, and the money is then being redistributed in grants to those in need. Donations to this year’s appeal have now reached over £60,000 but this money is already being distributed by our charity partners such as Age UK to Somerset residents and more funds are desperately needed.
Many of the people who need help during the winter are also isolated and lonely, and the freezing weather makes it even harder for them to venture out at all or ask for help. Grants from the Surviving Winter appeal might pay for fuel bills, warm clothes and blankets, transport to doctor appointments or a cupboard full of food. Fuel poverty is one of the hidden issues of our rural county and greatly affects the health and wellbeing of those who cannot heat their homes, but it also has an impact on local NHS services. Last winter (2014/15) saw an unprecedented rise in the number of ‘excess winter deaths’ in Somerset to 500, deaths that can be directly attributed to the cold weather of winter. There are of course many other people who fall ill from the effects of the cold and require hospitalisation or repeated doctors’ visits to recover.
With your help, the Surviving Winter appeal can help prevent this outcome simply by helping people stay warm in their homes. Justin Sargent, Chief Executive of Somerset Community Foundation, said “We had an amazing start to the appeal with thousands of pounds donated before Christmas, and I want to thank everyone who has been involved so far. With temperatures in Somerset due to fall sharply this week, we know there are people in your local communities struggling to stay warm and healthy. Please share the details of the campaign and be as generous as you can.”
Click here to donate to Surviving Winter and read more about the appeal.