Suffolk: Surviving Winter campaign launched to help save lives of vulnerable as cold weather approaches
The East Anglian Daily Times’ annual campaign to provide vital support for vulnerable people struggling to pay rising energy bills launches today.
Surviving Winter, spearheaded by the Suffolk Community Foundation, Age UK Suffolk and the EADT, raised £80,000 last year and helped nearly 800 households suffering from fuel poverty in the county.
Shockingly, about 200 people in the county die each winter because they cannot afford to stay warm and safe. That’s why the Surviving Winter campaign is so crucial – and this year, with your support, we want to make more than £80,000 – and save even more lives.
A major report produced for the Suffolk Community Foundation by University Campus Suffolk has highlighted the effectiveness and importance of the campaign.
It said: “Rather than attempting to address causal factors, the campaign was realistically and sharply focused on providing timely and targeted financial assistance to households in crisis because of heating costs”.
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It said financial assistance was “well targeted at households in fuel poverty” and “successfully reached those in Suffolk’s pockets of very high deprivation”.
It added this led to both short and long-term benefits, including preventing households from taking on uncontrollable debt and reducing stress associated with fuel poverty.
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The aim of the initiative is to help older residents on tight budgets pay their energy bills and stay safe as the 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, also backed by the East of England Co-operative Society and Ipswich Building Society, to help make a difference to someone’s life and reduce winter deaths in Suffolk.
The relaunch of the campaign comes at a critical time amid heightened anxiety over the spiralling cost of gas and electricity.
The furore has prompted consumer groups and charities to warn that many will be forced to choose between heating or eating.
Fuel poverty is defined as spending more than 10% of income on energy – when the homeowner is unable to afford to maintain an adequate temperature in their home due to a combination of low income, high fuel costs and low fuel efficiency.
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.
To back the campaign click here .