Suffolk: ‘Awe-inspiring’ generosity celebrated as Surviving Winter appeal ends

Amanda Long, of East of England Cooperative, Stephen Singleton, Chief Executive of Suffolk Foundatio

Amanda Long, of East of England Cooperative, Stephen Singleton, Chief Executive of Suffolk Foundation, Terry Hunt, Editor of East Anglian Daily Times and the Ipswich Star, and Helen Taylor, of Age UK Suffolk, launched the Surviving Winter appeal

A MASSIVE “thank you”.

That is the message today from the organisers of this year’s Surviving Winter campaign which will help hundreds of vulnerable Suffolk people to stay safe and warm.

The county’s appeal, led by the Suffolk Foundation and Age UK Suffolk, The East Anglian Daily Times and the East of England Co-operative Society and Ipswich Building Society, has raised £85,000 - enough to help nearly 400 people. Suffolk’s final total is believed to be one of the highest in the country and far exceeds the £55,000 raised last year.

The Suffolk appeal was boosted by a £20,000 donation from an anonymous charitable trust.

Stephen Singleton, chief executive of The Suffolk Foundation, said: “The team at The Suffolk Foundation have been truly amazed by the response this year’s appeal has received from the readers of the EADT. It has been both awe-inspiring and moving to see donations flooding in everyday from individuals that just want to help others.

“We would like to thank everyone that has chosen to support this campaign and with your help we can continue to provide relief and warmth to older people in fuel poverty in Suffolk.”

The aim of the appeal is to help older residents on tight budgets pay their energy bills and stay safe as temperatures plummet. 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 to help make a difference to someone’s life and reduce fuel poverty in Suffolk.

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Helen Taylor, information service manager from Age UK Suffolk, said so far 184 grants totalling £43,877 had been distributed and once all the funds are handed out the campaign will have helped more than 400 people.

She said: “Grants have been used in a variety of ways – including assistance with gas and electricity costs and to purchase coal, heating oil and extra heating appliances.

“We have also made contributions direct to customers’ electricity and gas accounts, which has hopefully provided re-assurance to the customers involved that they can put their heating on when they need to during this winter.

“Additionally, we offer a free benefit check to anyone who approaches us about a Surviving Winter grant, which means that we have the potential to identify additional benefits that customers can claim to help with the costs of staying independent throughout the year.

“This combination of services has enabled us to provide a holistic approach to older people in need and we have already given additional benefits advice to 12% of those that have applied for a Surviving Winter grant.

“It is so good to have these funds available again this year and I am pleased that the Suffolk public continue to support the Surviving Winter appeal.”

Terry Hunt, EADT editor, paid tribute to the generosity of the newspaper’s readers. “Everyone knows that we are living in tough times, and there isn’t a great deal of spare cash around,” he said. “Under those circumstances, for the people of Suffolk to raise this record-breaking total is nothing short of breathtaking.

“The donations mean that literally hundreds of vulnerable people in the county – many of them elderly – are able to keep themselves safe and warm this winter, instead of potentially facing the awful dilemma of choosing between heating and eating. On behalf of all the grateful recipients, I would like to say a huge thank to those who gave so generously.’’

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