March 7 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 9, 2013
A widower who is one of the first beneficiaries of this year’s Surviving Winter campaign has described receiving the much needed money as like “winning the lottery”.
Brian Allan’s poignant comments come as the total for the appeal reaches an impressive £30,500 - the equivalent of raising £1,000 a day.
The campaign - spearheaded by Suffolk Community Foundation, Age UK Suffolk and the East Anglian Daily Times - aims to provide vulnerable people with the money they need to stay safe and warm this winter.
So far £10,250 has been handed out to 43 people in need.
Mr Allan, who lives alone in Lowestoft, said he had only switched on his radiator for one hour this winter before he received the money.
Now the 75-year-old has described his relief at being able to heat his council bungalow properly.
“I got this about a week or so ago and I had put the heating on once for about an hour until then,” said Mr Allan, who lost his wife four years ago.
“It was so marvellous to be able to sit near a radiator; I was just putting on an extra jumper before. It just made such a difference.
“You see in the papers and on the television about people who actually heat or eat and it really does apply. It was such a relief that I could now put some heat on… I felt like I’d won the lottery.”
Mr Allan was born in Cheshire and entered an apprenticeship in the printing industry as a compositor; it was his job to arrange the type on printing machines.
He then moved to Bungay where he took a job at a printing works but later retrained as a proof reader, a job he did for a number of years. Since then Mr Allan has worked in various jobs including as a milkman and in a care home. He has been living on and off in Lowestoft for 50 years.
As the cold weather set in he wasn’t aware of what benefits or winter allowances he might be entitled to, and decided to visit Age UK Suffolk in Lowestoft to check what options were available.
“I just went to Age UK to find out what benefits I was due because you hear about people getting so many benefits,” he said. “I’ve worked all my life and I just wanted to check.
“She (Age UK worker) applied for me and I didn’t hold out a great deal of hope because there must be hundreds of people in my situation. I’ve sent her a little note and a Christmas card as well to say thanks very much for even trying.”
Now that he has received the winter allowance Mr Allan switches on the radiator in the living room and his bedroom for one hour every night before he goes to bed. However he added that things are still “very, very tight”.
He hopes other people will now be able to take advantage of the scheme which has brought him such comfort.
“There must be an awful lot of people who don’t know about it,” he said. “It was a surprise to me I must admit and I didn’t hold out a lot of hope,” he said. “Really this sort of thing shouldn’t be necessary, should it? When you think what the government spends money on.
“Thank you all – it means a lot to me. Have yourselves a lovely (warm) Christmas.”
Anyone who feels they are able to forgo their Winter Fuel Payment can donate either part or all of it to the Surviving Winter appeal by filling out the form opposite.
The campaign is also backed by the East of England Co-operative Society and Ipswich Building Society.