Suffolk: Surviving Winter appeal raises more than £60,000 for those in need

Surviving winter

Surviving winter

Organisers of this year’s Surviving Winter campaign have expressed their gratitude after more than £60,000 was raised to help those suffering from fuel poverty in Suffolk.

The annual appeal, spearheaded by the Suffolk Community Foundation, Age UK Suffolk and the EADT, generated a total of £66,363 this winter to provide vital support to some 259 people living in fuel poverty in the county.

The campaign asked people if they were willing to donate all or part of their Winter Fuel Payment so it could be redirected to somebody in need.

Mandy Abdel Aziz, operations director of Suffolk Community Foundation, said organisers of the campaign were “indebted” to the readers of the EADT for their support.

“The Surviving Winter Campaign reaches out to older people in Suffolk living in fuel poverty during the dark and cold winter months,” she said.

“Working in partnership with Age UK Suffolk we have been able to help a large number of people who may otherwise have continued to live in fuel poverty – alleviating the need to ration heating or live in one room brings with it improved health and wellbeing benefits too.

“The campaign has helped to raise awareness of the issue of winter fuel poverty and with a sense of community spirit we have all been able to rally together to raise much needed funds for those in Suffolk.

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“For this we are indebted to the readers of the EADT for their continued help and support.”

The fundraising effort comes after the latest figures showed deaths linked to cold weather increased by more than a quarter in two years in the east of England.

There were 3,300 “excess deaths” in East Anglia in the winter of 2012/13 – a rise of 28% from 2010/11.

Stephen Singleton, chief executive of Suffolk Community Foundation, added: “We are extremely thankful to the readers of the EADT for supporting the Surviving Winter Campaign throughout this winter.

“With your help we have raised over £66,000 and so far we have been able to help almost 260 households living in fuel poverty in Suffolk.”

Terry Hunt, EADT editor, said: “Once again our readers have demonstrated just how generous they are. Although this has not been a severe winter, nonetheless there have been some cold spells and it is during those that some people can struggle to keep their homes warm. It is those people who benefit from Surviving Winter. Thank you very much for all the donations.”

The campaign, which comes amid heightened anxiety over the spiralling cost of gas and electricity, is also backed by the East of England Co-operative Society and the Ipswich Building Society.

According to energy comparison website uSwitch annual gas bills in Suffolk have soared by 115% over the past 10 years, from £370 to £799, while electricity bills have risen by 127% from £237 to £540.

A total of 35,426 Suffolk households (11.4%) were classed as living in fuel poverty in 2011, according to the latest Government figures.

In a series of case studies, one 80-year-old widower in the Suffolk Coastal area said the Surviving Winter grant was “appreciated more than words can say”. He said he felt less worried about his finances and believed the funding had a positive effect on his health.

Another 74-year-old in the Waveney area said the grant relieved her of financial worries, while those views were echoed by a man living by himself in a village in west Suffolk who said she is now in a position to switch on radiators when it gets cold.

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