Get help while you can – Surviving Winter fund keeping people warm across Suffolk nears £100,000
“Don’t wait until it is too late to claim these potentially lifesaving winter benefits.”
That is the message from Tim Holder, development director at the Suffolk Community Foundation as the Surviving Winter appeal nears its £100,000 milestone.
Around 300 people have received grants from the fund so far, which encourages people to donate their means-tested Winter Fuel Payment if they can afford to.
Approximately 28% of recipients are from the Ipswich area, 24% are from Mid Suffolk while 20% live in the Suffolk Coastal area.
But the campaign, which aims to collect £120,000 before it finishes in the spring, will not last forever.
That is why, as temperatures continue to plunge, Mr Holder is urging people to get involved now before the end of the financial year in March, when many can feel under pressure.
He is also reminding those who apply for the grants that they may also be entitled to other winter benefits, such as attendance allowance and the warmer homes discount scheme.
“We have managed to collect £98,000 so far – we are just £2,000 off the £100,000 milestone, which is excellent news,” said Mr Holder.
“But I am sure there are still people out there struggling to make ends meet, and we would love more people to apply and donate before it gets too late.
“March is a stressful time for a lot of people and our campaign fund will close around that time.
He added: “So this is really what we are asking people – don’t wait until it is too late to claim these potentially lifesaving winter benefits. Once you apply for the grants a range of other organisations we are working with may be able to help you.”
Last week this newspaper revealed around a million pounds worth of government funding was going unclaimed as people did not know they were entitled to claim it.
Suffolk-based project Warmer Homes Healthy People’s work with the Surviving Winter campaign shows how those who apply for the grants and similar benefits are also benefitting from the services they offer.
One of their clients, Mary Hill, from Kesgrave, has had cancer and suffers from asthma.
Recently, neighbour Sharon found her wrapped up in a blanket struggling to keep warm.
An inspection showed the 72-year-old had old storage heaters which were not heating her home sufficiently.
Through the Warmer Homes Healthy People project, she now has fully-funded gas central heating at her property.
She says that she is cosy and warm now – she really feels the difference and thinks it is much better for her health.
“It has changed my life,” said Mrs Hill.
“I had no idea I was entitled to this sort of grant and it’s an incredible scheme. I’m sitting here in a short sleeved jumper now, it’s lovely and toasty.
“It used to be so cold, I was sitting here shivering. The people who helped were so great and now I’m able to enjoy the winter months rather than being cold all the time.”
For more information about the Surviving Winter fund, visit suffolkcf.org.uk/give/survivingwinterappeal/