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Reducing the fear of the Cumbrian winter

Older people across Cumbria are worried about the winter ahead with many unable to afford to heat their homes.

Andrew Purvis, 72, said: “I worry about using electricity. The price of it is scary.”

Many older Cumbrians are forced to choose between heating and eating during winter and this year will be extra tough due to continuing high energy and food costs.

Every year between 300 and 500 older people in Cumbria die because of problems related to not being able to heat their homes.

But local people have a chance to help as the county’s Winter Warmth Appeal launched earlier this month with the aim of raising £500,000.

Money donated by the public and businesses is given to vulnerable older Cumbrians so they can afford to turn their heating on.

Jenny Benson, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, the charity which runs the annual appeal, says donations are even more crucial this year.

“We are being told by our partners at Age UK just how desperate a situation it is for people who are being forced to choose whether they eat or heat their homes,” she said.

Carolyn Singleton

Carolyn Singleton, 79, from Newtown in Carlisle said: “If I didn’t have the Winter Warmth grant, I wouldn’t be able to turn the heating on.”

Andrew Purvis, 72, who lives near Aspatria, said: “You are forever thinking, can I do that? Should I put the heating on? I’m careful about baths and showers, because of the cost of heating the water. Food has all gone up as well. You have to balance one against the other – heat and food.”

Mary Morsby

Mary Morsby is 69 and lives on Walney Island in Barrow in Furness. She says the Winter Warmth grant is a “life saver.”

“If I can’t keep the house warm, or warmish, then I get bad coughing fits and my chest gets tight,” she says.

“I have an electric fire, but I don’t use it because it is too dear. To be truthful sometimes it is warmer outside than it is in.”

Mary said the Winter Warmth grant made a huge difference last winter.
“It helped me to put money on the gas and electric and get warmer. I was able to get a few bits of shopping. I had cut back on food, and things like washing powder and toiletries.

“Every time you shop stuff has gone up. It’s hard work trying to juggle stuff in the winter. You have got to eat and keep warm. The money was like a godsend really. It’s a life saver.”

Cumbria Community Foundation, which is based at Dovenby near Cockermouth, has run the appeal every year since 2010 raising almost £2.5m.

Last year Cumbrian individuals and businesses donated a record £661,908 to the Winter Warmth Appeal. This was used to make 2,413 grants, helping 3,223 older Cumbrians keep warm.

This year the situation is likely to be worse due to the continued energy crisis and the impact it is having on fuel bills this winter. It comes at a time when food prices and other household costs are also going up, leaving the vulnerable on low incomes in our county under more pressure than ever before.

Donations to the Winter Warmth Appeal made between 9am on November 13 and 5pm December 11 will be doubled thanks to the generosity of match funding champions: WCF Ltd, John Laing Charitable Trust, Cumberland Council, Nuclear Waste Services, Hadfield Trust, Rural Getaways Ltd, Furness Building Society, Lake District Estates,, Roselands Trust, the Johnson Fund, Brian and Ann Clark Fund, Harvey Family Fund and private donors.

Jo Ritzema, Managing Director of Brampton-based WCF, which has donated more than £50,000 to appeal since 2018, said: “We put our team and the rural communities in which they live and work at the heart of our business, and take their lead to provide long-standing support to the charities and organisations which are important to them.

“With the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy bills, it’s never been more important to support those who cannot afford to heat their homes this winter. I would urge anyone who is able to get behind the Winter Warmth campaign and make a real difference to people’s lives in Cumbria.”

You can donate online using this link.

Alternatively, donations can be made by cheque (payable to Cumbria Community Foundation) or phone. To make a phone donation, please ring 01900 825760 between the hours of 9am-5pm.

Over 10,000 people to benefit from local funding in Barrow to tackle loneliness

More than 10,000 Barrovians are being supported by Cumbria Community Foundation into volunteering and opportunities to build social connections thanks to the Government’s Know Your Neighbourhood Fund.

Over £1.1 million has been allocated by Cumbria Community Foundation to create high-quality volunteering opportunities and support for people experiencing, or at risk of loneliness in Barrow.

Furness for You is an exciting new partnership of community-led activities which aims to improve wellbeing and increase social connection to reduce loneliness. The partnership received £960,831 to offer a varied programme, from creative activities to group events and one-to-one support as well as volunteering opportunities.

Led by Groundwork NE & Cumbria, partners include Age UK Barrow, Brathay Trust, Barrow Leisure Centre, Barrow & District Disability Association, Cumbria CVS, Furness Multicultural Forum, the Poverty Truth Commission, StitchAbility and Women’s Community Matters. By working together, there will be no wrong door for anyone seeking support.

Groundwork North East & Cumbria representative Craig Drummond, said: “We are delighted that the money has been released for this crucial programme. Loneliness and isolation are devastating and sadly impact many people in the community. As a partnership we will build confidence and be a first step for many people to access an umbrella of services under one name, Furness for You, to ensure people receive the right support at the right time for their mental and physical wellbeing.”

A further grant of £210,502 was awarded to Cumbria Wildlife Trust to deliver The Bay, a nature and wellbeing project helping local residents combat loneliness and isolation by connecting with the outdoors. The Bay supports communities not only in Barrow but also in Wyre and Morecambe in Lancashire. Small group wellbeing sessions are at the core of provision, but it also offers a range of larger community events to engage with a wide range of people and connect into the Furness for You partnership.

Counting eggcases

Yolanda Aze, Community Engagement Officer for The Bay said: “We’re hugely grateful to Cumbria Community Foundation for their support with this important work. Reconnecting with nature can have a really positive impact on people’s wellbeing. Taking time to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the seaside, together, is a well-known method of helping combat depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. By helping people to immerse themselves in outdoor activities, such as guided walks, rock pooling, beach cleans and art, our project is benefitting the communities of Barrow, while also helping to support and alleviate some of the stresses on our NHS and also enable people to take action to help nature. Thanks to Cumbria Community Foundation, we’ll be able to continue providing this support for people in Barrow who may benefit from it.”

Since The Bay started in September 2021, over 5,600 people in Barrow have engaged with the programme and 242 people have been referred to The Bay’s nature and wellbeing sessions in Barrow. The programme as a whole has proved very popular, with nearly 13,000 people across all three areas (Barrow, Fylde and Morecambe) getting involved, and a total of 576 people have been referred to nature and wellbeing sessions.

Cumbria Community Foundation, along with eight other accredited community foundations from the UKCF network have previously supported a range of projects aimed at tackling loneliness and increasing volunteering during the first phase of the programme.

Annalee Holliday, Head of Grants Practice & Programmes, said: “Barrow is a vibrant and growing town with lots of great volunteering networks and community activities on offer. The Know Your Neighbourhood Fund is a chance to build on that success, share learning, work in partnership, and really make a difference in people’s lives.

“The fund has given a wide range of organisations the opportunity to reach more people and boost volunteering, strengthen the great communities in the town and improve wellbeing for everyone.”

Recent research has found that those living in the most deprived areas are more likely to report feeling lonely, as well as being less likely to volunteer. Research has also shown that loneliness is closely linked with mental health and wellbeing, and that certain types of volunteering opportunities can help connect communities and help people develop skills and grow their networks.

Civil Society Minister, Stuart Andrew, said: “Loneliness is something anyone can experience, at any time. We know that volunteering can help people connect, as well as improving mental wellbeing and helping people develop new skills.

“This funding will mean those in some of the most disadvantaged areas across the country are able to volunteer in an area that interests them. From arts groups to skills development workshops, there are thousands of ways for people to get involved, meet new people and try new things.”

Transforming lives in West Cumbria

The Transforming West Cumbria (TWC) programme, aimed at improving the lives of West Cumbrians, has already made a positive difference to hundreds of organisations and thousands of people, a new report shows.

Transforming West Cumbria, funded through the Sellafield Ltd social impact, multiplied (SiX) programme and delivered by Cumbria Community Foundation, focusses on addressing the area’s most entrenched social issues and inequalities.

It was created in response to a study commissioned by Sellafield Ltd in 2019, which highlighted persistent social problems including 3,900 children living in poverty, one-in-seven households with an income below £10,000 a year and more children in care than in any other part of the county.

Sellafield Ltd and Cumbria Community Foundation launched the TWC mid-term report – which details the positive impacts the programme is having – at a showcase event at Energus in Workington last week.

From building the resilience and capability of community organisations, inspiring social enterprise, and nurturing young entrepreneurs to improving family wellbeing, addressing financial hardship, and increasing mental health provision, the £6.5 million multi-year programme works collaboratively across multiple sectors and drives a partnership approach to delivery.

Many of the charities and groups supported under the programme attended the event to tell people about their work in West Cumbria including Together We, CADAS, Phoenix Enterprise Centre and the Howgill Family Centre.

Sellafield CEO Ewan Hutton

Sellafield Chief Executive Euan Hutton took time to meet with many of them and told the conference: “It has been humbling to hear the stories today and meet some of the groups involved in Transforming West Cumbria.

“You are all amazing. Well done to Cumbria Community Foundation and everyone who makes this happen.”

Gary McKeatingGary McKeating, Head of Development and Community at Sellafield, opened the event with a passionate introduction to Transforming West Cumbria.

“Trying to address the inequalities that we see in our everyday lives is the thing that puts fire in my belly and drives me on to help develop programmes like Transforming West Cumbria.”

Dr Jenny Benson, Director of Programmes and Partnerships, explained how the huge project had been developed around seven themes to address West Cumbria’s social problems.

“We live in a community that wants to help itself. Community groups want to do great work. Transforming West Cumbria is about harnessing that energy,” she said.

Keynote speaker, Councillor Emma Williamson, Deputy Leader of Cumberland Council, said the key change was collaboration. “We need to keep investing in these issues and listening to those with a lived experience to find the best way forward.”

The event demonstrated that more can be achieved by working together and that impact can be multiplied through collaboration. But, there is still so much more that can be done…

Businesses and individuals across West Cumbria, and beyond, are encouraged to get involved in Transforming West Cumbria by volunteering as a trustee, director or committee member for a charity or social enterprise, acting as mentors, sharing skills and training, offering in-kind support and providing match funding.

The full report is available here.

To find out more, contact Jenny Benson or Annalee Holliday on 01900 825760.