'It's never been more vital' - How you can support Suffolk's Surviving Winter appeal

Suffolk Community Foundation is urging donors and anyone who needs support to come forward

Suffolk's Surviving Winter Appeal has launched as requests for support begin - Credit: Suffolk Community Foundation

Suffolk's Surviving Winter Appeal is launched today, and is bringing a new programme of support to help people stay safe and warm in their homes in the coming months.  

Poverty levels and the cost of living are rising in Suffolk, with the latest 'Hidden Needs' report revealing 22,000 older people in the county are considered to be income deprived. This figure rises to 75,000 when factoring in people of all ages.

The appeal, supported by this newspaper, asks people to donate their winter fuel allowance, if they can afford to, so it can be redistributed to those in need. People can also simply donate money to the appeal, which has raised £1.2m in the last decade.

This winter, SCF says the annual cost of gas and electricity for an average household increases from £817 per year to £1,277.

The increased demand for help means that Suffolk Community Foundation donors have already offered to match every pound the public give up to £100,000. 

Tim Holder Suffolk Community Foundation

Tim Holder, from the Suffolk Community Foundation - Credit: Tim Holder

Campaign organiser, Tim Holder, from Suffolk Community Foundation, said: "Almost one in ten people in Suffolk are facing severe financial challenges this winter.  

"And, as the impact of Covid continues, combined with a surge in energy prices and a sharp rise in the broader cost of living, it is very likely that even more Suffolk people will experience challenges keeping warm this winter.  

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"This year's Surviving Winter appeal has its work cut out and we hope that the Suffolk Community Foundation's offer to double every penny donated will inspire everyone to step forward and give what they can afford to set the fundraising off to a strong start.  

"We are already taking calls with requests for support and we want to be able to continue to say yes to everyone who needs it.  

"As always, we encourage those who need their Winter Fuel Payment from the government to keep it and stay safe and warm, but for those who don't, we simply say: if you don't need it, please donate what you can to the Surviving Winter Appeal. Every penny donated by the generous people of Suffolk will be quickly distributed to those in our county who most need support." 

Over the past decade, the Surviving Winter Appeal has raised more than £1.2m, with £298,000 contributed last year alone. 

A review into data from previous years showed that there are people who have received support from the appeal year after year. The foundation said this was "a serious indicator of the ongoing challenges in people's lives".  

It is now considering ways to offer preventative support all year round to lift people out of poverty in a "longer-lasting way".

This could include maximising personal income - checking benefit entitlement, pensions, reviewing home utilities and supporting cost reductions, as well as debt management and wider financial support.  

And the team at Warm Homes Healthy People have been looking to maximise the impact of home energy surveys and increasing the take-up of energy efficiency grants, insulation, draught-proofing. 

If you would like to receive individual support from the Surviving Winter Appeal, contact Citizen's Advice on 01473 298634. 

To support the Surviving Winter Appeal, donate online at www.suffolkcf.org.uk, call 01473 602602 during office hours, visit any branch of Suffolk Building Society to make a payment over the counter or fill in the coupon in today's paper and send a cheque made payable to Suffolk Community Foundation to The Old Barns, Peninsula Business Centre, Wherstead, Ipswich, IP9 2BB.

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