Donating your Winter Fuel Payment ‘could save a life’ says consultant geriatrician

Consultant Geriatrician Dr Ali Alsawaf is supporting the Surviving Winter Campaign.

Consultant Geriatrician Dr Ali Alsawaf is supporting the Surviving Winter Campaign. - Credit: Su Anderson

Consultant geriatrician at Ipswich Hospital, Dr Ali Alsawaf, has said that helping someone to heat their home could save their life and is urging people to support the Surviving Winter Campaign.

Consultant Geriatrician Dr Ali Alsawaf is supporting the Surviving Winter Campaign.

Consultant Geriatrician Dr Ali Alsawaf is supporting the Surviving Winter Campaign. - Credit: Su Anderson

The campaign, run by the Suffolk Community Foundation, helps people to donate their Winter Fuel Payment, automatically given to everyone aged over 62, to help other people in need.

Dr Alsawaf, based at Ipswich Hospital’s elderly care Sproughton Ward, said that being cold at home can exacerbate existing conditions such as heart, breathing and joint problems, and brings with it an increased risk of hypothermia and pneumonia, which can cause people to become drowsy, disorientated and confused and make them more likely to suffer a fall or accident at home.

“People are more ill in the winter,” he said. “It’s very, very important to stay warm. When you are older you don’t cope with cold as well.

“It’s hugely important to stay warm so that your existing conditions, if you have any, are kept at bay and to stop them exacerbating.


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“It’s a vicious cycle. If you get cold you could get confused and not realise that you are unwell.

“Every year we see people who have spent the night on the floor because they have been cold and fallen down.

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“It’s not the cold that kills, it’s the complications of it.

“The Surviving Winter campaign is a great idea. The Winter Fuel Payment is not means tested so you receive it regardless of financial circumstances, and I think it’s great that if people don’t need it the can help people who are more in need, to help them pay for their fuel bills and keep their houses warm.

“This is an expensive time of year. We are spending lots of money. If someone can help you take that burden off that can only be a good thing.

“If you don’t need this payment, it’s a matter of sending a cheque off and you could potentially save a life.”

According to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) there is a corresponding increase in death rates when the temperature drops below 6 degrees Celsius.

Tim Holder, Development Director at Suffolk Community Foundation, said: “The Surviving Winter campaign helped more than 400 people in Suffolk stay warm and healthy last winter, but this year we need to help many more.

“We know that demand for help is greater than ever before, so please keep donations coming in.

“This year we are aiming to raise £100,000 to meet anticipated need, so if you don’t need your winter fuel payment, please donate it to others who do need extra help to pay their heating bills this winter.”

Winter Fuel Payments are received by people over the age of 62 in November and December each year, with payments this year ranging from £100 to £300 depending on personal circumstances.

To donate to the Surviving Winter campaign, visit www.suffolkcf.org.uk, call 01473 602602, visit your local branch of Ipswich Building Society or fill in the form published here.

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