Winter fuel appeal
Older people in Norfolk who can afford it are being asked to donate their government winter fuel payments to help others less fortunate than themselves.
The Surviving Winter Appeal, launched by Norfolk Community Foundation and supported by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, is asking people of all ages to show their support for older people in need.
In particular, people who receive winter fuel payments but do not rely on them are being asked to consider donating them to the fund.
The winter fuel payment is a benefit of between �125 and �400, depending on age and domestic circumstances, made to most people aged 60 and over during November and December.
If just one per cent of the 200,000 people in that age range in Norfolk were to donate their payment to the appeal and Gift Aid it, the foundation could raise more than �300,000.
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The money will be used to make grants to local charities and groups with a record of looking after the old and vulnerable, and direct payments will be made to those who need additional help to buy fuel, insulate their homes, eat properly and keep in touch with family and community.
It can also help in less obvious ways, supporting lunch clubs and voluntary groups providing all-important human contact, such as the Hevingham Laurel Club which provides regular meals, outings and entertainments for older people.
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Many vulnerable people died in Norfolk last winter from causes directly attributable to the cold.
“This is an excellent and simple idea to help government support go where it is most needed,” said Bishop Graham.
“It enables those who do not really need this financial help to give it to those in greatest hardship. It is the kind of thoughtful and compassionate enterprise which shows what a Big Society should be about.
“I shall be publicising this in our churches and I hope it will be widely taken up. Organisations working for the elderly and frail will benefit and that will help the neediest individuals.”
Graham Tuttle, director of the Norfolk Community Foundation, said: “We believe that if a small percentage feel that they could donate their winter fuel payment, we would not only be able to help many older people to literally survive the winter, we would also be able to make sure hundreds of others who suffer in silence would be better equipped to cope with the very cold weather and get through the winter with dignity.”
The foundation is the main channel for grassroots grant-making to small charities, groups and causes throughout Norfolk.
“Because of this relationship we have a ready-made network to identify winter need and target the money raised most cost-effectively,” said Mr Tuttle.
“We will be contacting local lunch clubs, day centres and other charities, which we know are focused on the elderly and asking them how and where the money can be spent to achieve the greatest impact.”
Make a donation to the fund at Norfolk Community Foundation, St James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich NR3 1SH. Call 01603 623958 for details.