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You can help tackle winter fuel poverty

Norfolk Community Foundation staff promote the Surviving Winter Appeal. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Norfolk Community Foundation staff promote the Surviving Winter Appeal. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

As more than £23,000 has been raised by generous donors to help elderly residents who can’t afford heating this winter, those who were forced to ask for help have shared their stories.

Claire Cullens, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation. Picture: NORFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONClaire Cullens, chief executive of Norfolk Community Foundation. Picture: NORFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Some will be struggling to make ends meet and face the choice between heating or eating. Others may be waiting for their benefits. Others are battling serious illnesses. Each of them are deserving of the Surviving Winter appeal made each winter by the Norfolk Community Foundation and administered by Age UK Norfolk.

One said: “My husband has recently broken his hip after a fall and we now have the heating on from 630am to 8pm each day. Before this we didn’t have the heating on every day for so long as we used to go out and about, but now we are unable to get out, we feel the cold so much more. The grant will be very very helpful, as we are expecting a big bill.”

Another said: “I had a call from the DWP to tell me all my benefits were going to stop with immediate effect and I have been getting support with the appeal process. This grant has made an enormous difference and I am so grateful.

“I had three weeks of no money coming in and with the colder weather I found my arthritis was significantly worse”.

Surviving Winter Gift Aid form 2016 for newspaper~1

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A third said: “I was living on a low income, and still am, so I was unable to put my heating on for too long, due to the expense and my living was so cold. Without the grant I would be sitting in a cold sitting room, covered with my blanket and hot water bottle and feeling alone”.

More than 40 grants have issued since September as New government figures revealed there were 390 excess winter death in Norfolk during 2015/16, with provisional data suggesting the figures for last winter (2016/17) could be even higher.

Norfolk Community Foundation CEO Claire Cullens said: “Winter presents problems for many vulnerable people across the county with Norfolk having the second highest number of excess winter deaths regionally.

“Managing fuel costs on low budgets means families and elderly residents often quite literally have to choose between heat or eat.

“The money raised will support the critical work that Age UK and Norwich Foodbank do, to help people through the winter months safely. Last year EDP readers raised nearly £50,000 for the Surviving Winter Appeal and we know that with more families than ever facing fuel and food poverty we need to raise even more support this winter.”

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