11th January 2016
Cumbria Community Foundation is appealing for help to keep older people warm this winter.
The charity’s ‘Big Sleep’ is being held on Saturday 30th January 2016 to help raise money for the Winter Warmth Appeal.
More than 130 people have already signed up to sleep in a field behind the Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel in Windermere but there is still room for more.
Workington MP Sue Hayman has knitted a scarf and will be joining forces with the county’s High Sheriff Sam Rayner – who is sleeping out – to encourage more people to take part.
Sue Hayman MP for Workington said: “The Winter Warmth Appeal really does save the lives of elderly and vulnerable people, and I was delighted to show my support by knitting a scarf over Christmas for someone in need. It is shocking that 300 people die in Cumbria each year due to the effects of the cold weather, and nobody should be forced to choose between heating and eating. It’s important that we look after elderly and vulnerable people, particularly at this time of year, and make sure they have access to the support they need.”
One of the people sleeping out is High Sheriff Sam Rayner, he said: “I’m joining all the other Big Sleepers for the night because our one night of modest discomfort is for the benefit of a significant number of Cumbrians who will receive a little bit of extra warmth this winter.
“The Big Sleep is an integral part of Cumbria Community Foundation’s Winter Warmth Appeal and it will be a privilege for me, the High Sheriff, to be one of many who will sleep ‘under the stars’ to help raise awareness of the fund and contribute towards it. It seems a small sacrifice for us when you consider the many nights of cold and discomfort many older people in our Cumbrian communities face. Why not come and join us?”
The Big Sleep will see hundreds of people being sponsored to camp out for the night in a field in January where temperatures will drop below zero. In 2015, it went down to minus six and the tents were frosted up on the inside!
Cumbria Community Foundation tries to take people’s mind off the cold during the event by playing a film in a marquee, providing a bowl of Cowboy Stew and offering a little light entertainment and lantern making, before everyone has an early night under the stars.
The reason the event is held is to raise money to give grants to older people in Cumbria to help them pay their heating bills.
One of the beneficiaries of the Winter Warmth Fund was Mrs Valerie King, aged 71, who lives alone in a two-bedroom semi-detached house in Cockermouth.
She said: “I live on my own, but I have to heat the house as if it is full of people. When you are on your own, your bills are the same as the couple next door, but there’s only one income. I have the heating on in the morning and the evening but its off during the day and at night. If it is really cold I will leave it on. I’d rather go without something else rather than without heat. I have arthritis and the cold makes it worse. I cut down on food and just buy the basics. I’d rather have a warm house. The Winter Warmth grant was a big help. I pay all my bills by direct debit so the same amount of money goes out all year.”
With the success of the Cumbria Flood Appeal launched by the charity, Cath Howard, Chief Operating Officer for Cumbria Community Foundation, said fundraising is understandably a little slow this year, but that older people really need help: “We have already given out £74,000 to help older people keep warm this winter, but we have only had £55,000 in donations so far. It’s really important that our Big Sleep is a fundraising success. We have raised more than £4.5 million towards helping our communities recover from Storm Desmond, but we cannot forget our annual appeals or our elderly neighbours in need. I’d ask people who can join us on 30th January to do so, and for those who can’t, to consider sponsoring one of our Big Sleepers.”
More information and details about how to sign up are here.