'Surviving Winter' Campaign is vital for Dorset and Wiltshire

by Michael Ford last modified 10 Dec, 2018 05:40 PM

A record 960 people died due to the effects of cold weather last winter across Dorset and Wiltshire and experts are predicting the figures will be even higher this year, prompting a call for more fund raising from our churches and community groups in the region.

The figures have been published as two local Community foundations launch their annual Surviving Winter campaigns, warning that the funds they raise are needed more than ever.

Colin Brady, Social Justice Programme Manager for the Diocese of Salisbury, said:
“For many older people, or people with long-term health conditions, the costs of staying warm can be prohibitive. Surviving Winter is an annual appeal for donations, often from people who receive the Winter Fuel Allowance but feel that they don’t need it, which is used to provide more vulnerable people with that bit of extra help with heating or insulation that can save a life.”

“Last year the two Community Foundations in our area raised over £100,000 for the Surviving Winter appeal. Much of that generous giving came from people who heard about the campaign through their local church. As we see the need rising I hope that we will be able to encourage yet more generosity this year. The impact of a small grant can really be life-saving.”

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that in 2016/ 17 a total of 370 people in Wiltshire and 590 people in Dorset died from the impact of cold, the highest number recorded and the ONS are forecasting a further increase in the South West region.

Last year, Wiltshire Community Foundation was able to make Surviving Winter grants that helped 403 individuals. One beneficiary, Janet Philpott (73) summed up the difference the Surviving Winter grant makes: “If I didn’t have this money I’d be huddled on my sofa with a water bottle. It’s such a Godsend.”

Dorset Community Foundation supported over 350 households last winter. One of the beneficiaries from the support last year, Mrs S W explained: “I used to live in my car in Dorchester and was really grateful when I got one room accommodation. The Surviving Winter grant I received helped me keep the room warm during the winter.”

Backing the campaign nationally, former BBC Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton said:
“If you don’t feel that you need your winter fuel allowance please donate to this wonderful initiative to help a local older person in need. It is shocking that many older people are at risk and often suffer in silence, having to choose between heating or eating. As little as £200 can save someone’s life.”

More on the Dorset campaign here; donate here

More on the Wiltshire campaign, with ‘donate’ link, here

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