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Surviving Winter: Age UK Norfolk warn region’s elderly at risk this Christmas

An appeal has been launched to help Norfolk's needy elderly heat their homes this winter. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

An appeal has been launched to help Norfolk's needy elderly heat their homes this winter. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

A charity which hands out cash to some of the region’s most vulnerable residents to keep them warm over winter revealed it is currently receiving calls for help every day – the majority from north Norfolk.

Surviving Winter Appeal.  Victory housing have donated £15,000 to be distributed through the surviving winter appea.
Anna Douglas (Norfolk community fundation) , John Archibald (Victory Housing) and Maddie Copley (age UK Norfolk) at the Victory Housing offices in North Walsham.Surviving Winter Appeal. Victory housing have donated £15,000 to be distributed through the surviving winter appea. Anna Douglas (Norfolk community fundation) , John Archibald (Victory Housing) and Maddie Copley (age UK Norfolk) at the Victory Housing offices in North Walsham.

However, as temperatures plummet, fears have been voiced that those who are not aware of the Surviving Winter fund could suffer without over the festive season.

It follows the revelation that North Norfolk, which has the highest percentage of older people in the county, has the second worst record in the East of England for so-called “winter deaths”.

The fund, which is managed by Age UK Norfolk in association with the Norfolk Foundation, relies on donations from the public to survive and has given out 1199 grants, averaging around £160 each, since it was set up five years ago.

This winter alone it has already helped 50 people - including 15 in north Norfolk.

And now local housing association, Victory, has gifted the charity £15,000 - the biggest single donation it has received to date.

Jasmine Toombs, Age UK Norfolk grants co-ordinator, said: “The donation from Victory Housing is incredibly welcome. It will help many older people who are struggling to cope with the cold weather and are at risk, despite their own best efforts.”

The EDP-backed Surviving Winter appeal encourages people who won’t need their winter fuel payment to donate it to help others.

Last year it raised more than £55,000, which was given out in grants to individuals and community groups like meals on wheels, lunch clubs and community transport projects.

Grants have helped to buy gas bottles, coal and wood, heating oil, portable heaters, cookers and microwaves, as well as low-cost heating repairs or replacement radiators and night storage heaters.

Maddie Copley, marketing and communications officer for Age UK Norfolk, said: “People often call up wanting help with heating bills, a lot of people with oil tanks don’t have enough money to actually fill the whole tank for example. Sometimes people will phone up for help with a broken radiator or warm clothes. So there is a variety of different requests.

“We want to provide a more holistic service for people who call us. We might find that someone who phones is eligible for benefits so we can advise them there or they might be very lonely so we can pass them on to our befriending service. There are lots of different ways we can help other than just the grants. But they are certainly very needed, particularly in the rural areas.

“We’ve had 50 requests so far this year but they are coming through daily now, particulary as it is getting colder. And, of those, 15 have been the north Norfolk area. So there is a great need in north Norfolk.”

But she added: “Some people don’t know these grants are available, they are surviving in absolute freezing conditions, they don’t know the support is out there for them.”

Victory chief executive John Archibald admitted fuel poverty was a “major problem” in Norfolk.

But, having installed more than 3500 new central heating systems and provided improved loft and cavity wall insulation to its tenants, he pointed out the housing association is committed to making its homes as warm as it can.

Mr Archibald, who branded the winter death statistics “shameful”, said: “Victory has a very aged demographic, 35 per cent of our residents are over 75-years-old, and the majority of are retirement age. We know that fuel poverty is a major problem in Norfolk and for us the fund seemed a really good mechanism to get money to those who really need it.

“For me, it’s shocking that we’re the third in the country for excess winter deaths - that’s just terrible. So if this can go some way to alleviate that that’s a good thing.

“We go to every effort to make our homes as warm as we can because we know the situation people face. It’s not just about affordable rent it’s about living in a house affordably.” And he added: “If we have a bad winter this money is going to be essential for many people.”

To apply for support from the Surviving Winter Appeal, call Age UK Norfolk’s Information & Advice Line on 0300 500 1217 or visit www.ageuknorfolk.org.uk

18 comments

  • In fact there are seven European countries more expensive than us for electricity and eight who are more expensive for gas. So well done Ed indeed !

    Report this comment

    Larson Whipsnade

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • "......We have the most expensive gas and electric prices in Europe....." , nonsense...Germany , Denmark , Portugal , Italy , Spain are more expensive . You can actually check these things you know , suggest you look up "Energy price statistics - Statistics Explained - Europa " before making a berk of yourself again. And you may have missed this...the Tories have been in power for more than six years and if you don't like what you are paying have a word with T May as it has absolutely nothing to do with E Milliband.

    Report this comment

    Larson Whipsnade

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • Rushallchap - great points Most of the old folks who voted Brexit were not in the war. If they were 16 in 1945 then they were born around 1930 so we're in their mid 80s at the time of the referendum Those are not the main group Do they teach basic arithmetic in Norfolk?

    Report this comment

    Alchemist

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • @norfolkandproud- here we go with the war again! Precious few around now actually fought in the war. You'd have to really be a man over 88 (that would make you 16 at the end of the war, so really is the reasonable cut off point). According to the independent of the 61,000 British soliders who stormed the beaches in Normandy only 500 were still alive in 2014. So let's not try and get carried away here, most current pensioners have lived through the longest period of peace and prosperity this island has ever seen.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap3

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • @exlab- ps this isn't a brexit story...or a left or right story...perhaps for your New Years resolution you could give all the rubbish a rest and try commenting on the actual articles. Just a thought. Anyway I hope you and billy smith, milecross, Ryan Bure, Alfred smith et al all have a lovely Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous new year. I know you'll be hoping that I do too. Cheers

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap3

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • when the brexit result was confirmed many remainers said the old had stolen their future . The truth is many of these old people who fought in the wars and help rebuild this country afterwards gave you your future . They didn't steal it

    Report this comment

    norfolkandproud

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • So to be clear, some old people are just plain selfish - like the rest of us. I wish they were more altruistic and didn't think the world owed them a living but many of them do. It would be good if they voted for the future but generally they vote according to their conservative views and self interest. That is why they voted for Brexit even though the majority of younger people voted to remain. However stupidity is not yet a crime and the older are more vulnerable so we should find ways to stop them dying prematurely from cold. That is the sign of a civilised society - protecting those you disagree with.

    Report this comment

    Alchemist

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • I remember this one coming up before and I recall suggesting that we create special heated pensioner booths, where cold penniless pensioners can sit free of charge to be warmed up. To encourage the public to participate, you could fund the heating with coin meters with a sign inviting passers by to put a £1 coin in the meter. What better way is there to spend a £1 at xmas?

    Report this comment

    Rhombus

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • @exlabnowkipper- pensioners are the only group excluded from freezes (that's real world cuts to you and me) in their benefits. They do very well for themselves. I'm not ashamed of anything I've said, furthermore I voted for Richard Bacon...that'll probably melt the few remaining cells you have left. Some old people have done lists for this country, but like the current generation, many have done next to nothing. It's incumbent upon everyone to plan for their retirement. It's unacceptable to sit back and say 'I'm old, dobitall for me'. I'm sorry but you are wrong if you think being old is a ticket to a free ride; it isn't, nor should it be.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap3

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • @rushall . Thank you again for showing the lefts true colours and what exactly they and you think of our old people . Many old people voted for brexit because they felt like they were being ignored by the establishment and particularly the left and labour . . You should be disgusted with yourself posting a comment like this about our old people who have gave so much to this country and deserve something back

    Report this comment

    exlabnowukip

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • @exlabnowkipper- we are 'putting our people first' by providing even more free money for them. The state pension is ample and generous but many pensioners fritter their cash away on pressies for little Jonny and then we, the tax payers, again come running to the rescue. They get plenty, they should budget better. Personally I'd reduce the state pension to exactly the amount as job seekers allowance immediately. Then there would be plenty to go round. If they haven't saved for this phase of life then they should have to survive like the rest of us. Triple locked inflation busting state pensions rising faster than wages and inflation says it all. They are the best looked after bunch of benefits claimants in the land.

    Report this comment

    Rushallchap3

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • why are we spending billions on foreign aid and immigration when thousands of our old age pensioners have to choose between eating or heating . . Our people should come first

    Report this comment

    exlabnowukip

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • Yeah, those green taxes don't help. Neither does having a toothless regulator that's as much use as a chocolate teapot :(

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • We have the most expensive gas and electric prices in Europe mainly due to the extra 'Green' taxes that great statesman Milliband lumped onto us while Energy Secretary 10 years ago. Steel mills closed, pensioners froze, but at least he established his worthy credentials to the World and all the climate change zealots. Well done Ed...

    Report this comment

    SEAN SMITH

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • This appalling situation won't be helped when the poorest pensioners have to start paying Bedroom Tax. Thanks LibDums for enabling that. Thanks Nazty Party for breaking your promise.

    Report this comment

    marty r

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • And of course, why should the elderly need extra money to be able to buy presents for their loved ones? My standard question now, Could someone take the time to tell me why they vote conservative please. Is it the nhs, because it's so well funded and everyone thinks it's being fantastically run? Is it education, and how successful the schools are with their brilliant funding and excellent teachers? Is it the economy, and the trade figures? Is it pensions, housing for all and the lack of poverty? Is it that we all want to be millionaires and get a tax cut? Do we like foodbanks? Do we think that the railways are fantastically run? See, I could be a Tory if I was as gullible to think that foodbanks are a sign of a flourishing economy, that homelessness was a sign of a liking for fresh air. So please, tell me why you vote Tory?

    Report this comment

    Davidbrian552

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • Because not everyone has quarterly bills. Some have solid fuel, calor Gas or heating oil and people pay up front. Odd that people don't think things through isn't it. Let's take it further though, and ask why there's such a thing as fuel poverty? Why are many of our elderly in such dire straits? Has funding been cut to such levels that social care has all but vanished? Why have the rich had tax cuts and the poor, the elderly and the disabled are punished by cuts to services and income?

    Report this comment

    Davidbrian552

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

  • Why oh why doesn't the government pay the winter fuel allowance out in February. When the biggest bills of the year start dropping through the letterbox. Paying it out in November makes it far too easy for the elderly to use it to pay for Xmas presents.

    Report this comment

    Hereandthere

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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