Help the elderly survive this winter after figures show death figures rise across Norfolk

The Surviving Winter Appeal is to help the elderly keep warm in the winter months.

The Surviving Winter Appeal is to help the elderly keep warm in the winter months. - Credit: Archant

Experts have warned of the need to protect the vulnerable over the festive season, after new figures showed the number of 'winter deaths' had risen sharply across the region.

Graphic: Annette Hudson

Graphic: Annette Hudson - Credit: Archant

Newly released data shows the number of such deaths in our area had risen by 24 per cent in the space of two years, to 730.

The figures, from the Office for National Statistics, indicate that of the seven district councils in Norfolk, as well as Fenland and Waveney, only three saw the number of winter deaths fall, over the period.

It comes as forecasters warn plummeting temperatures this winter, with snow and ice on the way.

Sue Whittaker, chair of the Adult and Social Care committee for Norfolk County Council said that the rising fuel prices 'do play a part in a number of elderly people not keeping warm enough.

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She said: 'There are grants through the Warm and Well programme and I think if anyone is concerned about someone, or anyone themselves, should not hesitate to contact the council for help.'

Mrs Whittaker also called for people to keep an eye on the elderly too.

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She said: 'This county has a high population for the over 85s. I would really encourage people to check to see if their neighbours and relatives are keeping warm - it can make all the difference.'

The number of so-called 'excess winter deaths' are calculated by the ONS by comparing the death rates from non-winter months to those that occur between December and March.

The figures are used to show the link between deaths and low temperatures.

Most such deaths are in the over 75s and experts say the statistics lay bare the problems caused by fuel poverty and the isolation of vulnerable people - especially in rural areas like East Anglia.

The newly-released figures provide a breakdown of each council area for the winters of 2010/11 to 2012/13. A breakdown of the figures from last winter are not yet available, although nationally, there was a drop in the numbers.

In our region, the biggest increase was in north Norfolk, where the numbers trebled, from 30 to 90, from 2010/11 to 2012/13.

In general, the more rural areas appeared to do worse, with falls in the numbers of deaths observed in the more urban Great Yarmouth, Waveney and Norwich.

Stephen Hammersley, chief executive for the UK Community Foundations, which is leading the nationwide Surviving Winter appeal said: 'People are quite simply dying of the cold in this country.

'The Surviving Winter appeal is a small but important intervention in this cycle, and the community foundations work hard to make sure that the money donors give so generously goes a long way.'

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