As many as 300 older people die every winter across Cumbria because of the effects of the cold weather. Today sees the launch of a major appeal to help older people stay warm this winter.
Cumbria Community Foundation is encouraging people to donate to the Winter Warmth Appeal, which last year helped more than 1,000 older Cumbrians out of fuel poverty.
The Appeal was set up in 2010 when a few leading Cumbrians decided they wanted to donate their Winter Fuel Payments to support others who were less fortunate than themselves. Since then, half a million pounds has been raised.
Anyone born before 5th May 1953 is automatically entitled to the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment and for many people this is vital. While no one wants to see the end of this universal benefit, some people can manage without it and are putting it to good use.
The money raised is distributed in partnership with Age UK West Cumbria, Age UK Carlisle and Eden, Age UK South Lakeland and The Oaklea Trust, and last year went a long way in helping vulnerable older people in Cumbria keep warm throughout the winter.
Hilda Peace, 65 from Carlisle benefited from a grant last winter. She said: “I hesitate to put the heating on all the time because of the cost and I know the costs are going to rise again this year, which is a real problem. I live on my own and struggle to keep warm. I don’t like to go out much in winter in case I slip and have an accident so I prefer to stay in. I usually go to bed at 7pm to stay warm and avoid putting the heating on.”
“I didn’t like to ask for help as I thought there were people worse off than me but someone persuaded me to apply and I’ve had a grant for the last three years now. I think it’s a generational thing but we need to break through the barrier of getting older people to ask for help when they need it. I would encourage anyone to apply.”
Cumbria has a super aging population; the number of older people living in the county has risen dramatically over the last six years. Between 2009 and 2015, there was an increase of 10,000 people aged 60 and over living in Cumbria.
Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “Every winter, in every corner of Cumbria, there are older people who are struggling to keep warm.
“As our aging population increases, it is vital that we are in a position to help. We never want to have to say no to helping an older, vulnerable person in need and that’s why this year’s appeal is challenging the people of Cumbria to join together and beat last year’s record amount raised.
“The people of Cumbria have been consistently brilliant at supporting this important appeal, thank you so much to all that have donated so far.”
To raise even more money for the appeal, the Foundation is also hosting the fourth Big Sleep on Saturday 28th January 2017 where people are sponsored to spend a night sleeping under the stars on the shore of Lake Windermere when temperatures have previously plummeted to minus 6 degrees.
Cumbria Community Foundation would like people to pledge their Winter Fuel Payment or if they don’t receive it to make a donation to help those desperately in need of extra support during the winter. You can do this via the website www.cumbriafoundation.org or by calling 01900 825760.