Mercia surviving winter appeal

The Bishop of Norwich has called for kind-hearted Norfolk folk to spread a little warmth to others at the launch of the Surviving Winter Appeal in Norfolk.

The Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, is lending his support to the appeal, which aims to help vulnerable older people stay warm and healthy over winter. He said: “This is as strong a call to action and an appeal to human instinct to help each other as it gets - if the many help the few through this fund we could potentially save several lives in Norfolk which could be at risk otherwise, and reduce a lot of suffering.”

Through the scheme, which is also supported by the EDP, anyone can donate to the Surviving Winter Fund set up by the Norfolk Community Foundation to help the elderly keep warm in the colder months. The fund also provides those receiving Winter Fuel Allowance payments who don’t feel they need it with a way of donating those funds to pensioners in greater need. The Foundation is working with Age UK Norfolk to help identify those in greatest need of help through the scheme.

Foundation Director Graham Tuttle said; “The need is greater than ever in Norfolk. If just 1% of people in Norfolk who are eligible to receive this benefit and Gift Aid it, the Foundation could raise more than £300,000 to provide assistance with fuel costs, hot food and warm clothing for those facing hardship this winter.  We urge those who can help to get in touch with us as soon as they can direct or using the form here on this page so we can have those resources at the ready when needed. They could make a huge difference to others in difficulty.”

The launch comes as Age UK Norfolk has revealed shocking statistics showing exactly how great that need is in the county, and how the fund could actually help keep some Norfolk pensioners alive.  

Over 1 in 3 pensioners in the UK live in Fuel Poverty, and several areas of Norfolk have a higher percentage of excess winter deaths than the UK average as a result of fuel poverty. With these low-income pensioner households at greatest risk of excess winter deaths, Age UK says that the accessibility of fuel in a cold snap can become a real issue in many of these households.  A donation towards the average energy bill of £100 would cut fuel poverty by 45% and £300 would cut it by 75%.  

Speaking on behalf of Age UK Norfolk, development manager Linda Gill said; “We have volunteers working closely with vulnerable elderly people so we know this is an issue, and can identify those in real need of a bit of timely help to keep them out of danger.”

A review of figures in 2009 also showed a 49% increase in excess UK winter deaths on the previous year. The number of Norfolk residents aged 60 and over is also expected to increase over the next 20 years from over a quarter of the county’s population to over a third.

To kick-start this year’s appeal Rix Petroleum has stepped in to help by donating six emergency ‘run out’ fuel packs to elderly and vulnerable pensioners with no prospect of an oil delivery in cold weather due to fuel poverty.

Director Rory Beath said: “We wanted to do something really useful and practical to help. These packs will be accessible to those in real short-term difficulty referred to us locally through Age UK and we are always keen to try and find solutions to help others too.”

To contact the Norfolk Community Foundation call 01603 623958 or email  Alternatively you can cut out the form the EDP has included on this page and pop it in the post.