We have launched this year’s Surviving Winter Appeal to raise £20,000 to support local households facing fuel poverty. We appeal to those who are in a position to help, to please donate to support those who will struggle to stay warm this winter.

We are particularly appealing to people over the age of 66 who are receiving a non-means-tested Winter Fuel Payment, but do not need it, to consider donating the equivalent or part equivalent to the Surviving Winter Appeal.

We will then work with partnering charities across the county to distribute the raised funds, by making direct payments towards energy costs, like topping up prepayment meters, financing upcoming gas and electricity costs or paying for heating oil deliveries.

Support is needed more than ever, as the cost-of-living crisis continues, and many energy support schemes offered last winter will no longer be offered this year. Therefore, prices will be equally, if not more, challenging than last year. National Energy Action suggests that about one third of households believe that they will struggle to heat their homes this winter.

Sue Reynolds, Community Investment Service Manager at CHS Group, which is one of the appeal’s charity partners, commented:

“We expect the situation to be even worse this year, as the cost-of-living crisis continues, food and energy costs remain high and even those who had previously been ‘just about managing’ are now really struggling to pay energy bills or to top up their prepayment meters.”

“We are hugely grateful to the Surviving Winter Appeal for providing extra resources to enable us to help some of our most vulnerable clients.”

Those affected by fuel poverty cope as best as they can. People cut back on other essentials, such as food, or they ration energy use by heating only one room. Many people will also take respite in other warm places. However, with high energy costs and other living expenses, low incomes and energy-inefficient homes, these measures only go so far and should not be what anyone should need to resort to.

People in fuel poverty face serious health risks from living in cold homes, with cold-related deaths representing the biggest weather-related source of mortality in the country.

Among the worst affected will be the most vulnerable, including children. Living in fuel poverty can have a detrimental impact on children’s health, well-being and their ability to learn. Children growing up in cold, damp, and mouldy homes with inadequate ventilation have above average rates of respiratory infections and asthma, chronic ill health, and disability. They are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and slower physical growth and cognitive development.

People who are already facing health issues may also find themselves facing difficulties to stay warm in the winter. For example, last year, the Surviving Winter Appeal supported a terminally ill woman in her early 60’s who was undergoing treatment and felt very unwell. Despite receiving Universal Credit and PIP payments, she was still struggling to pay her bills to keep her house warm. Due to the seriousness of her medical condition, it was important for her to stay warm, so the appeal offered vital support in her time of need.

Our Chair of Trustees, CEO, President and Vice President visited British Antarctic Survey’s ice core labs to experience the amplified effects of the cold that some Cambridgeshire households are facing on a daily basis. Whilst they were in the ice core labs for a short period of time and homes in Cambridgeshire do not get as cold as the labs’ temperature, people in Cambridgeshire face living in cold homes for much longer than the time our team spent in the cold conditions. What they experienced for a brief moment is what people in cold homes are likely to experience day in, day out, whilst trying to study, work and look after loved ones.

Michael O’Toole, CEO, commented:

“I couldn’t think of anything other than how cold I was. I can’t imagine how children living in fuel poverty try to focus on studying despite shivering from the cold.”

“Whilst homes in Cambridgeshire might not get to temperatures as low as in the ice core labs, we were able to experience the amplified effects of what some families and individuals experience daily, for prolonged periods of time.”

People who need help to stay warm and afford energy this winter can seek support from the Surviving Winter Appeal’s charity partners, who will be distributing the raised funds by making direct payments relating to energy costs. The partner organisations include: Cambridge Aid, CHS Group, Cambridge City Foodbank, Citizens Advice Cambridge & District, Citizens Advice Rural Cambs and Citizens Advice Peterborough.

Donate to the Surviving Winter Appeal