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Surviving Winter Appeal: Join our campaign with Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to raise £20,000





People in fuel poverty face serious health risks from living in cold homes – but this winter you can help those struggling to stay warm.

Cambridgeshire Community Foundation (CCF) and the Cambridge Independent are campaigning to raise £20,000 by launching the Surviving Winter Appeal.

The Surviving Winter Appeal is run by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation with support from the Cambridge Independent
The Surviving Winter Appeal is run by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation with support from the Cambridge Independent

Support is needed more than ever, as the cost-of-living crisis continues and many of the energy support schemes offered last winter are not available this year.

National Energy Action suggests that about one third of households believe that they will struggle to heat their homes this winter.

Among the worst affected will be the most vulnerable, including children. Living in fuel poverty can have a detrimental impact on children’s health, wellbeing 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.

CCF’s chair of trustees Stephen Catling, CEO Michael O’Toole, president Julie Spence – the Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire – and vice-president Mark Bonney, the dean of Ely, along with Cambridge Independent editor Paul Brackley visited the British Antarctic Survey’s Ice Core Labs to experience some extreme cold and launch the appeal.

While homes in Cambridgeshire will not get as cold as the -25C found there, the group were only in the freezer facility for a short period of time, whereas people in the county face living in cold homes for much longer.

What they experienced for a brief moment is what people in cold homes are likely to experience day in, day out, while trying to study, work and look after loved ones.

The Surviving Winter Appeal is launched at the British Antarctic Survey. From left, Stephen Catling, chair of trustees at Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, the Very Rev Mark Bonney, dean of Ely Cathedral, Julie Spence, Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Michael O'Toole, CEO of Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, and Paul Brackley, editor of the Cambridge Independent. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Surviving Winter Appeal is launched at the British Antarctic Survey. From left, Stephen Catling, chair of trustees at Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, the Very Rev Mark Bonney, dean of Ely Cathedral, Julie Spence, Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Michael O'Toole, CEO of Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, and Paul Brackley, editor of the Cambridge Independent. Picture: Keith Heppell

Michael O’Toole, CEO at CCF, said: “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 freezer facility, we were able to experience the amplified effects of what some families and individuals experience daily, for prolonged periods of time.”

Together, the foundation and the Cambridge Independent are appealing to those who are in a position to help to donate what they can.

They are particularly 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 appeal.

The foundation will then work with partnering charities in Cambridgeshire 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.

Sue Reynolds, community investment service manager at CHS Group, which is one of the appeal’s charity partners, added: “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 who are already struggling with poor health may also find it difficult to stay warm in the winter.

Paul Brackley, editor of the Cambridge Independent, said: “We are pleased to be working with Cambridgeshire Community Foundation on the Surviving Winter Appeal.

“We know that the cost of living and high energy prices will continue to have a huge impact on individuals and families in our region this winter and we are keen to help.

“We hope the appeal will really aid those in need during the coldest time of the year and urge everyone who is able to support it to do so.”

Last year’s appeal supported a terminally ill woman in her early 60s 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.

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.

To support the appeal, visit justgiving.com/campaign/survivingwinter2023.



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