Suffolk: Surviving Winter campaign bursts through the �40,000 barrier

GENEROUS, kind-hearted people across Suffolk have helped the Surviving Winter appeal burst through the �40,000 barrier.

But the initiative, in which people donate their winter fuel payment if they can afford to, still needs to be supported to help vulnerable people pay their energy bills and stay warm as the temperatures plummet.

And it comes at a time when it was revealed that some 300,000 more homes are likely to have been pushed into “fuel poverty” by Christmas amid soaring energy prices.

The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group (FPAG) urged Prime Minister David Cameron to take stronger action to ensure there is a more widespread and ambitious effort to tackle “spiralling” fuel poverty levels.

The appeal, which last year raised �55,000 and helped 250 people, is being led by Age UK Suffolk, The Suffolk Foundation and the East Anglian Daily Times with the East of England Co-operative Society.

And the campaign has been given a further boost with the annoucement that Saxmundham-based company Christies Care has thrown its weight being the appeal.

It is part of their community programme to support local charities that help vulnerable older people and their winter newsletter to 450 people who use them for live-in care will carry an appeal to support Surviving Winter.

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Their spokesman Freddy Gathorne-Hardy said: “As a live-in care agency (enabling people to carry on living in their own homes, rather than go into residential care), many of our carers see at first hand the financial challenges that can accompany old age, especially during the winter months.

“We are delighted to back the Surviving Winter Appeal as we admire the partnership between The Suffolk Foundation and Age UK Suffolk to make a significant difference to hundreds of local lives this winter. “Through our newsletter, we are promoting the appeal and we are encouraging others to support this special winter hardship fund.”

Christies Care works actively with a number of local charities that support carers and particularly older people in need.

“It is wonderful to see the response continuing so strongly,” said Judi Newman, development director for The Suffolk Foundation.

“Since Christies Care became a member of the Suffolk 100 Club, which helps to fund our Suffolk Fund for community grant making, we have got to know their team better and admire their active commitment to the local community.

“Through their support of the Debenham Project and the Wickham Market Family Carers Support Group, Freddy and the team at Christies Care look for creative ways to use their skills to help support older people in the community so we are thrilled and very grateful that they are backing Surviving Winter to help us reach others who may wish to support the appeal.”

Meanwhile, FPAG said the latest round of energy price rises has increased the average annual energy bill by 7%, taking it to

�1,247 for direct debit customers and �1,336 for cash and cheque customers.

These increases are likely to have pushed a further 300,000 households into fuel poverty and estimates have already shown that over nine million households could be living in fuel poverty by 2016, the FPAG said.

The FPAG said the Government should create a cross-departmental group on fuel poverty to ensure a joined-up approach as well as creating a new duty for local authorities to meet fuel poverty targets.

It said the Government should also carry out an urgent impact assessment of welfare reforms on fuel poverty.

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