Fresh call to help Norfolk’s neediest elderly survive the winter

A fresh appeal has been launched to help Norfolk's neediest elderly pay their fuel bills. A fresh appeal has been launched to help Norfolk's neediest elderly pay their fuel bills.

Monday, December 23, 2013
4:58 PM

Norfolk’s Surviving Winter appeal has smashed through the £25,000 barrier. But requests are still coming in faster than donations, as some of our neediest elderly feel the chill.

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Norfolk Community Foundation has issued a fresh call to those who may not need their winter fuel payments to pass the money on to those who do.

It came as its chief executive Graham Tuttle said it was being “inundated” with requests for help.

“This year we’ve helped 111 applicants when at this point last year we had managed to help 283,” he said.

“Age UK Norfolk turns applications round as quickly as they can, but they can only help if the money keeps coming in to enable them to do so.

“We appreciate that there are a number of very worthy causes to donate to at this time of year, but few could meet a greater need than simply surviving the next couple of months.”

The announcement comes against a backdrop of a confirmed rise in excess winter death figures, increased fuel bills and the end of the government’s Warm Homes, Healthy People campaign.

Charities warn this winter could pose a greater risk than ever to the elderly who need help with heating costs. The situation is particularly acute in Norfolk where there is a higher percentage of excess winter deaths than the UK average.

Jasmine Toombs of Norwich-based Age UK Norfolk, is on the front line dealing with the day-to-day reality of grant giving through the scheme, and speaking to those who need help.

“We’re having to make some really tough calls and we are finding that some applicants have had unexpected changes in circumstances which have made them really vulnerable,” she said.

“The payments can make a huge difference and the thought of holding applications back is awful.

“I’ve got a pile on my desk today to sift through and I just hope I can help as many of them as possible – that’s the reality for me, and for them – we have to think each decision through carefully and it’s really hard.”

Surviving Winter, backed by the EDP, has been a lifeline for hundreds of Norfolk’s neediest households, giving grants towards the cost of fuel costs. There are thousands living in so-called fuel poverty across the county, many in rural areas with no mains gas, who must depend on bulk deliveries of increasingly-expensive heating oil to keep warm.

To request support from the Surviving Winter fund, contact Age UK Norfolk on 01603 787111.

Age UK Norfolk also offers information and advice throughout the year. Older people and their families can call 0300 500 1217 for a free copy of the Winter Wrapped Up guide with a free thermometer.

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