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Surviving Winter

by Michael Ford last modified 10 Dec, 2019 05:24 PM

A campaign supported by our churches that saves lives in Dorset and Wiltshire has helped over 2,800 vulnerable households get through the coldest months of the year.

Surviving Winter is a fundraising campaign that invites donations that are used by local agencies to keep vulnerable people warm, and is 10 years old this year.

Run by the Community Foundations in Dorset and Wiltshire, an impressive £750k has been raised since the appeal was first launched in 2010. The campaign started by encouraging people who received a winter fuel allowance - but felt they didn’t need it - to pass the money on to people who could with a bit of extra help to heat their homes.

Each winter, about 900 people will die in Wiltshire and Dorset due to, quite simply, not being able to stay warm enough to live - some 520 in Dorset and 400 in Wiltshire. The latest confirmed statistics show that Dorset had a sharp increase in the winter of 2017/ 2018, with over 730 people dying due to the cold.

Mr "M", one of the older people the appeal supported (who didnt want to be identified), shared his circumstances and the difference the grant has made:

"I live alone and disabled due to an accident and suffer lasting effects from cancer. My house is cold due to two old storage heaters. I have no money to improve my heating or lifestyle, the cold makes my disability worse.

"The grant helped me deal with the added costs of trying to keep warm this winter."

For Vivienne Watson, the £300 Surviving Winter grant from the Wiltshire Community Foundation means she can afford to heat her home without worrying about affording to do anything else.

Mrs Watson, 78, lost her husband Tony 5 years ago from dementia. The couple had been married for 54 years. Mr Watson's death resulted in an immediate drop in income for his wife and she began to worry about heating her home. She is hugely grateful for the money that allows her to stay warm and well through the long winter months.

She says: "I think the Community Foundation does such a great thing helping people like me."

Bishop Nicholas is a patron of Surviving Winter Wiltshire, while Bishop Karen is a patron of Surviving Winter Dorset. The work of these 2 campaigns is regularly highlighted to our churches by Colin Brady, our Diocese's Social Justice Manager.

Colin said:

“It’s horrifying that so many deaths attributable to the cold take place each winter across our area.

"Surviving Winter has been a great campaign that has caught the imagination of many our church members. We know that much of the money raised so far has come from people who have heard about the campaign through church newsletters, seeing the clear link between the needs of those who are least able to stay warm and the ability of many of us to make a donation that will save lives.”

Info from Dorset Community Foundation

Info from Wiltshire Community Foundation

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