Help A Neighbour Survive Winter

by Gerry Lynch last modified 17 Dec, 2013 05:38 PM

Bishop and churchgoers urge those who can afford it to donate their winter fuel payment.

The vast majority of people aged 62 or over on 5 January 2014 will receive a winter fuel payment from the government.

For some, this is a bonus allowing a short break or nice meal. For others, midwinter is bleak indeed and Epiphany a time of genuinely “cold coming”. The winter fuel payment can make the difference between being able to heat one's home or not; for the most vulnerable of all, it simply isn’t enough.

The Surviving Winter programme allows people who can afford it to donate their winter fuel payment to someone struggling to stay warm.

Andrew Marx, a parishioner of All Saints in Enford in the Pewsey Vale, donated his winter fuel allowance last year.

“This was a simple, practical, way to help my neighbour”, says Andrew, “My wife volunteers with Age UK, so I’m aware of how poverty hits many older people.

“Sometimes, the cost of restricting a benefit to those in need can be more than providing it to everyone. That’s true with the winter fuel payment, but I think those of us who don’t need it have a duty to help those who really do.”

The Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, said:

“In Wiltshire alone, there were 262 winter-related deaths last year, nearly all of people over 65. That really is a cold, hard, statistic – in a prosperous country, this should not happen.

“Churchpeople take their commitment to love their neighbour seriously – so many give generously of their time and money already – and I am sure those who can afford to donate all or part of their winter fuel payment will want to do so.”

Surviving Winter began 3 years ago due to increasing winter deaths of elderly people in fuel poverty.  Led by the UK Community Foundation, it raises a six figure sum in Dorset and Wiltshire.

Applicants receive a full benefits check, guidance on insulation and a heating system assessment.  The programme is so effective that few applicants come back for a grant the following year. 

Last winter, Mr and Mrs F from Salisbury received a grant of £300. Mr F wrote, “Both of us are registered disabled and virtually house bound. Until now we have sat in the house with the temperature around 15C. Thanks to this grant we will be able to keep warm.”

In Dorset: donate online or, if that isn’t possible, via a cheque or banker’s draft to: The Surviving Winter Appeal, Dorset Community Foundation, Abchurch Chambers, 24 St Peter's Road, Bournemouth, BH1 2LN.

In Wiltshire: call 01380 729 284 to make a card payment, donate online – or text “WARM215” to 70070 to donate £5 simply.

In Hampshire: donate online here.

Nationwide if you’re outside our area, find out more about the national Surviving Winter campaign run by the UK Community Foundations or donate directly here.

To apply for a grant from Surviving Winter please contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

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