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Sunday, 23 January 2022

Charity’s annual winter warmth appeal making a real difference to the elderly

OLDER people living in fuel poverty are relieved at being able to have their heating on in the colder weather after receiving a Winter Warmth grant.

The grants of up to £250 come from Cumbria Community Foundation’s annual fundraising appeal, set up in response to the average 300 cold-related deaths each year in the county among older people who are unable to heat their homes properly.

So far this year the appeal has raised more than £135,000 thanks to donations which were matched by WCF Ltd, the John Laing Charitable Trust, Roselands Trust, The Johnson Fund, Brian and Ann Clark Fund, the Harvey Family Fund and a private donor.

The Foundation is still asking for much-needed donations. Last year, the appeal raised over £200,000 and helped more than 1,500 Cumbrians pay fuel bills.

The Community Foundation works with partners Age UK and Copeland Age & Advice Service (CAAS), who distribute the grants as well as provide advice and guidance to people in fuel poverty.

One of the biggest problems facing many older adults, especially those living on their own, is not staying warm enough in their homes. When temperatures fall below 8°C, older people can be vulnerable and susceptible to an increased risk of becoming ill and developing pneumonia and in extreme, serious cases of low temperatures – hypothermia.

Lesley Amor, Finance Director and Customer Support Officer at CAAS, said:

“Every day we receive calls from older people who may be living on their own and who are in desperate need of help and support.

“Many of our clients need financial support and we are delighted to be working with Cumbria Community Foundation to be able to offer the one-off grants to older people. These are extremely helpful and make a real difference to a person’s daily life and wellbeing over the cold winter.”

One beneficiary is a 102-year-old veteran, Thomas Hodgson, from West Cumbria.

Thomas fought for his country during World War II and he is still full of determination, hoping to be the oldest person to do a parachute jump at the age of 103 next year, after already completing one on his 100th birthday. Thomas joined the territorial army in 1937 and was assigned to the fifth battalion border regiment. He joined the Royal Engineers in 1940 at the age of 20 as he worked on the railways as a fireman. When the army asked for parachuting volunteers, he literally jumped at the chance and joined the 7th Parachute Battalion.

For many older people, the past two years have been very difficult with the added onset of the COVID pandemic and not being able to have family and friends around them.

Thomas remains positive and the team from CAAS are there when he needs help and advice. He is very thankful to have the support of a Winter Warmth grant to help him keep warm during the winter months.

Thomas said:

“I have recently had an operation in hospital, and I am awaiting more appointments.

“I am always very happy to see the team at CAAS; they are very helpful and support me to remain safe and independent.”

When asked about the Winter Warmth grants he said:

“It’s grand. The extra funding is very helpful and I must thank the people who look after me with the grant.”

Liz from Windermere was supported last year, and she found out that she could apply to the Winter Warmth Fund from Age UK, which works in partnership with Cumbria Community Foundation, making sure the money reaches those most in need.

The 80-year-old said:

“It really made a difference, especially with being on benefits. I didn’t feel frightened of putting the heating on and I could put the radiators on in all rooms rather than just my lounge.”

Talking about the appeal, the Foundation’s Chief Executive, Andy Beeforth, said:

“More than 120,000 Cumbrians receive the government’s Winter Fuel Payment and to many, it’s a lifeline but for those that don’t need it, we can pass the money on to someone who is finding winter difficult.

“Our Winter Warmth Appeal is even more important this year with the rise in fuel prices. It allows us to help, support and make physical, noticeable and actual positive differences to many older people, their wellbeing and daily lives during the cold and lonely winter months.”

David, from Liverpool who visits the county regularly and who recently donated, said:

“Those of us who get a warm welcome when we visit Cumbria should if we can afford it, help residents of the county who may struggle to keep warm in winter.”

To donate online, please visit: https://cumbriafoundation.enthuse.com/cf/winter-warmth-appeal.

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