PLEDGES of support have already started to flood in for a major campaign that aims to help vulnerable people pay their energy bills and stay warm as temperatures plummet.

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The 2012 Surviving Winter appeal, led by Age UK Suffolk, The Suffolk Foundation and the East Anglian Daily Times – with support from the East of England Co-operative Society – hopes to prevent hundreds of unnecessary deaths.

Anyone who feels they are able to forgo their Winter Fuel Payment can donate either part or all of it to the campaign and help make a difference to someone’s life and reduce fuel poverty.

Last year the initiative raised more than £55,000 and saved over 200 lives, with money used to pay heating bills and purchase heaters, coal and oil for the most vulnerable.

Among the first to express their support for this year’s bid is the Right Reverend Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.

“When I became involved in the Surviving Winter appeal in Suffolk last year, I was struck by the simplicity of the message,” he said. “There are many older people who find the winter a daily struggle, and yet there are others who are receiving a benefit that they can afford to forgo.

“As an individual, it is difficult to find an appropriate mechanism to direct your Winter Fuel Payment to someone in need so the Surviving Winter appeal provides a clear way to make that happen.

“The feedback from recipients last year was both humbling and clear proof that the extra support is deeply needed and appreciated. I am proud to be associated with the appeal and I thank the East Anglian Daily Times readers for their astonishing generosity.”

Between 2007 and 2010 on average 454 vulnerable people in Suffolk have died each year from causes directly attributable to cold and poor living conditions.

The vast majority of those affected were over 65 years old, while more than 56,000 households in Suffolk live in fuel poverty.

Surviving Winter forms will be printed regularly in the EADT over the coming weeks and all the details will be available to help people make a contribution.

This year, with the support of the East of England Co-operative Society, The Suffolk Foundation aims to help even more older people stay warm. Pledge forms will be available in all stores throughout the winter.

For more information or to to donate your Winter Fuel Payment, fill out the form opposite, call The Suffolk Foundation directly on 01473 602602 or visit its website, www.suffolkfoundation.org.uk

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