The ratio of winter related deaths is higher in Cumbria than most of the UK with an average of 300 deaths occurring in Cumbria each year due to the effects of the cold weather on rural households. Older people in particular are amongst the most vulnerable and the Cumbria Community Foundation’s Winter Warmth Fund helps to keep older people safe and warm through winter. Last year alone we were able to make grants of more than £100,000 helping more than 1,000 individuals and this year we are determined to raise more.
How the money has made a difference
David, 78, Carlisle
David struggles to get around the house and his wife is also his carer. The Winter Warmth Fund Grant took a little bit of pressure off their stretched finances.
“It made a lot of difference, we weren’t scratting about for money for meters. Both the gas and the electric are on a meter. We’ve got an electric fire but we never use it – just the radiators that work off the combi boiler. We just wrap up, put on an extra cardigan, and a little bit of extra heating in the winter.”
Jan, 62, Workington
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) means that Jan can’t walk far and can’t climb stairs. The British Lung Foundation recommends that people with COPD have the same temperature in their home all year round as a variation in temperature aggravates the problem.
“I am always playing catch up with the gas bill. I pay by Direct Debit but there is still more to pay each time. The Winter Warmth Fund Grant meant I could leave the heating on more and that definitely helped me.”
Jean, 68, Shap
Most people couldn’t contemplate living with no electricity and cooking all their meals on a camping stove. For one woman in Shap, that is her daily grind, come hail or shine. Add multiple sclerosis, arthritis and a gluten intolerance in the mix and you get an idea of what Jean is up against.
“I don’t know how the hell I survived last winter, I was robbing Peter to pay Paul. I am in debt and ran up even more buying gas and paraffin to keep warm. I hope we don’t have another winter like last winter, I can only afford to run one bar on the heater. My cooker blew up and I can’t afford to replace it. The Winter Warmth Fund Grant really helped.”