This month the Wiltshire Community Foundation launched its annual Surviving Winter campaign and urging those who can afford to live comfortably this winter to consider helping someone in the county who can’t.
Shockingly, each year 300 people in Wiltshire suffer premature winter-related deaths simply because they cannot afford to heat their homes. Research shows the majority of these people are over 65 and 75% of these deaths are due to the impact the cold has on respiratory and circulatory conditions.
Hundreds more experience hardship and suffering due to the cold weather, the cost of heating and poor housing. This can be prevented if people can afford to keep themselves and their homes warm. But 10% of Wiltshire households, (30,000) live in fuel poverty, spending more than 10% of their annual income on heating alone. These people are often faced with the stark choice of eating or heating and Wiltshire Community Foundation believes this is a choice that no one should be forced to make.
This year the problem is expected to be even greater. Weather experts are already predicting that the 2018/19 winter will be the coldest we have experienced in years and with energy prices being at their highest level ever it is expected that more people will find themselves at a financial breaking point.
Through their Surviving Winter programme, Wiltshire Community Foundation provides grants towards heating costs to vulnerable people across the county who otherwise would be unable to heat their homes. Working with local organisations such as Age UK Wiltshire, Aster, Warm and Safe Wiltshire and Citizens Advice they are able to identify those most in need of support.
Last year the Surviving Winter Appeal raised £77,000 and the Foundation was able to give out 265 grants, benefitting 403 individuals. This year they have set themselves the target of raising £90,000.
Rosemary Macdonald Chief Executive of Wiltshire Community Foundation said: “While for many of us winter is a season we look forward to; wintery walks, crisp, cold weather, nights in with friends and family around the fire and of course the countdown to and preparations for Christmas. However, for thousands of people across Wiltshire the winter months are ones of misery, illness, hardship and isolation and for the most vulnerable, a time when they struggle to survive.
“It is hard to believe that in 2018 people in Wiltshire are still dying simply because they cannot afford to heat their homes and that is why we are once again calling upon local people to support our
Surviving Winter campaign. Your support will truly make a difference and in some cases, it may help save someone’s life.”
Anyone wanting to support the Surviving Winter campaign can make a donation by visiting the Wiltshire Community Foundation website www.wiltshirecf.org.uk or by calling 01380 729284.