Winter drive to ensure vulnerable people in Norfolk stay warm
16:40 13 October 2012
Fuel bills are going up yet again. But elderly and vulnerable people face a cold and painful winter because they cannot afford to heat their homes.
That is why we are asking the people of Norfolk to dig deep once more to help Surviving Winter - an appeal which does exactly what it says on the tin.
Parts of our region suffer levels of fuel poverty as high as Britain’s inner cities, with up to one in four households struggling to pay their bills.
It is the 21st century, yet people still die from the cold in Norfolk while many more face a winter of worry over how they will make ends meet and pay their bills.
The government has no plans to give more financial aid to help.
And the big energy companies are putting their charges up next month, sparking anger at the impact on those least able to afford them.
That is why we need your help.
While the over-60s automatically qualify for a winter fuel payment, not all of them need it. By giving their payment to the appeal, those who can afford to get by without the money can give it to someone for whom a couple of hundred pounds could make a real difference.
Last year, you helped hundreds of vulnerable people with money you donated to Norfolk Community Foundation’s appeal.
The appeal, backed by the Bishop of Norwich, more than doubled its £25,000 target.
As the latest fuel prices rises begin to bite, even more people will need our help when the colder weather comes this winter. So we want to do even better than last year and help raise even more money.
Daphne Claxton, from Great Yarmouth, was struggling this time last year. She needed more oil to see her through the winter, but was still paying off some of the previous year’s bills.
“I’ve got a wonderful family and they help me all the time but I try not to ask them too much and I thought I could cope,” she said.
But the minimum amount of oil she could order was £300. And the only way she could afford it was to buy it on a credit card – meaning she would be in even more debt to pay her fuel bills.
Then a friend saw the Surviving Winter campaign in the EDP.
Mrs Claxton called and a cheque was soon on its way.
“It helped me get on an even footing again, it made all the difference,” she said. “It was quick and easy and we sorted it out mainly over the phone.”
That call had another benefit. Norfolk Community Foundation put Mrs Claxton in touch with Age UK Norfolk, who helped her claim an extra £77 a week in attendance allowance.
“I’ve worked hard all my life and helped others, but I don’t like asking for help in return,” she said. “But I was really glad I did on this occasion. It really helped me get straight and has given me back my independence.”
“My fuel costs were starting to overtake me. Poor health, with no one to help me was enough of a burden without worrying how I was going to keep warm. I feel so much happier and optimistic.”
That’s what one elderly person who was also helped by last year’s appeal told the EDP.
Another who was given a payment to help reduce her fuel debts, to cut the amount being taken from her pension, called and said it was the first time anyone had ever helped her with her bills.
The age of those helped last year ranged from people in their 50s to their early 90s. A 92-year-old who could not afford to run the storage heaters in her home in Great Yarmouth was among the oldest.
Another woman, in her 90s, who lives in Breckland, had become muddled paying her bills and built up a fuel debt of £5,000. Surviving Winter helped with a payment towards her arrears.
A woman in her 70s, who cares for a disabled son, could not afford to pay the £95 a month needed for fuel oil on top of her other household bills. The fund made a payment direct to the oil company to cover the shortfall.
One woman in North Norfolk, living alone in her mid-70s, was left without a cooker after it was condemned and removed by her power supplier. She was given a grant towards a new cooker, as well as a grant towards her gas bill.
To apply for assistance from the Surviving Winter fund, call Age UK Norfolk on 01603 787111.
To apply for assistance from the Warm and Well fund, call the Norfolk Community Foundation on 01603 623958.
To donate to Surviving Winter, use the form on this page or go online to www.norfolkfoundation.com