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Surviving Winter Appeal

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This page contains the details of what was achieved by the Surviving Winter campaign during winter 2011-12. To learn more about this year’s Surviving Winter campaign or to make a donation, visit

Surviving Winter was a UK-wide co-ordinated campaign to encourage people to make donations through community foundations to help older and vulnerable people affected by fuel poverty in the 2011-12 winter.

Inspired by people who wanted to recycle their Winter Fuel Payment to support older and vulnerable people, the campaign struck a chord with many to raise over £2.5 million in total.

Community foundations, supported by Saga Magazine, ran the appeal to help thousands of vulnerable and older people affected by fuel poverty.  The appeal formally launched on 10 November 2011.

Community foundations all over the UK co-ordinated the campaign.  The £2.5 million they collected, thanks to the generosity of the British public, went directly to help those locally who struggle to stay safe through the winter.

Why we set the appeal up

With rising fuel bills and the prospect of another cold winter, older and vulnerable people are at risk.  5.4 million households are living in fuel poverty. Almost half of those living in fuel poverty are aged over 60.

Each year around 20,000 more people aged 65 or over die in winter months than in other months.  Last winter there were an estimated 25,400 excess winter deaths.

Cold weather exacerbates coronary and respiratory illnesses, illnesses associated with older people. For every winter-related death there will be dozens of people suffering illness and hardship. Choice between eating and heating, isolation and depression are all factors.

Older lady shivering by aniquated gas fire

Where did the money go?

The response to the Surviving Winter Appeal and the overwhelming generousity of the British public was fantastic, and means that community foundations, working with local charities and community organisations, helped thousands of people.

All the money raised was used for the direct benefit of older and vulnerable people who were suffering because of fuel poverty. The money supported those most in need of help and made sure they could afford to stay warm, eat well and remain mobile, as well as helping them in practical ways such as ensuring they can make doctor’s appointments, get to the shops, and maintain an active social life.

Every single pound donated reached someone facing fuel poverty during the winter. It reached them through small local charitable organisations working with older and vulnerable people - local stroke clubs, lunch clubs, community centres, community transport schemes and faith groups.

Community foundations are embedded in communities across the UK so know these local charities well, and knew  they  could assess which individuals faced winter hardship.

Administrative costs for the campaign were taken from the Gift Aid claimed back on the donation  - so every pound donated was recycled back to those who need it.

Who did the appeal support? How?

Older and vulnerable people who demonstrably needed extra support - living alone or feeling isolated, finding it hard to afford their fuel bills,  unable to go out or reluctant to let others see their living conditions. Community foundations made use of existing networks to find them. For some people, the extra funds provided access to a regular lunch club providing warmth, company and a hot meal. For others it provided crucial changes to their homes - draughtproofing, window repairs - and for others it was a more efficient heater or help with fuel bills. For example,  Dorset Community Foundation provided crisis funding to an 80 year old partially sighted woman who was threatened with having her sole source of heating and cooking supply turned off just before Christmas. The £500 grant prevented this happening.

Quotes from our celebrity supporters

"To think of people dying of cold in this country because they can’t afford enough heating is really distressing and if I can help make a difference I am very happy to support Saga’s call on behalf of the Surviving Winter appeal.”
Sir Bruce Forsyth

“I will be the first to donate my Winter Fuel Payment to the Surviving Winter Appeal. This small gesture is such an easy and obvious way to support local people in real need and I hope others will follow suit.”
Ann Widdecombe
“This is an excellent way for local people to help some of the most vulnerable older people in their area.  I’ll certainly pass my payment on, and encourage everybody who can, to contribute towards it.”
Sir Terry Wogan

This is a marvellous initiative and it gives everyone, including those who receive the winter fuel payment, the opportunity to help older people in our local community who struggle with their winter heating bills. I will certainly be donating my winter fuel allowance when it comes through this winter. This campaign is targeting only those who can really afford to give.”
Dickie Davies

"When I heard about the Surviving Winter Appeal I wanted to be involved and was happy to donate because I believe passionately that we need to support the vulnerable and elderly in our local communities. Those who can afford to should be encouraged to help those more in need and it is wonderful to be part of such a caring initiative right across the country just before Christmas."
Dame Helen Mirren

"A great many senior citizens in Britain need the Winter Fuel Allowance and many constituents contact me about high fuel prices, but I have also been approached by many people who feel it's not right and proper they receive it because they don't need it.
This is why I met with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation and subsequently the national Community Foundation Network to help propose and support this scheme.
I'm delighted that they now have gone ahead with it, both in Hampshire and nationwide, to give this money to those in greater need. It is an innovative, practical and very positive way to tackle fuel poverty in a climate of rapid price increases for gas and electricity.

George Hollingbery MP, sponsor of the national launch at the House of Commons

"I fully support the “Surviving Winter Appeal” to assist the elderly and the vulnerable to keep warm and healthy during our cold winters.  If you are in a position to do so please help by donating all or part of your winter fuel payment to this very worthwhile cause.”
Sir Michael Parkinson

"Staying warm and healthy in our cold winters is something most of us take for granted.  However, when the idea of those more fortunate “handing on” their winter fuel payments to local, vulnerable people was presented, I wanted to pledge my payment to the “Surviving Winter Appeal”. It would be great to think that all those people who are in a position to forego part or all of their own winter fuel payment could join this great scheme and spread a little warmth.
Sir David Jason

"I’m very happy to give my winter fuel allowance to help someone else who needs it more –  how great it is that so many of us “of a certain age” are all linking up across the whole country like this, to make something really special happen.”
Rosemary Conley

“The Surviving Winter Appeal is an important initiative and I am more than happy to support it. Winter weather conditions are worsening and many families and individuals are struggling to keep themselves warm as they live in fuel poverty.  If you can spare it, giving your Winter Fuel Payment to someone who needs it desperately is a wonderful thing to do.”
Denise Robertson

"I am very pleased to be donating my Winter Fuel Payment this year because there are so many people here in Milton Keynes that can’t afford the most basic things like a warm home and food on the table.  My donation will ease the burden on these people in our coldest months.”
Dame Cleo Laine

"Athough it’s lovely to receive the winter fuel payment, it’s ridiculous that I should keep it, when there are elderly folk struggling to keep warm with one bar of an electric fire.  I’m absolutely 110 per cent backing Saga’s campaign to pass on payments to those who need them.”
Gloria Hunniford

"I will gladly donate my winter fuel payment to Saga's Surviving Winter campaign.  My wife Mary, who has served as president of the British Energy Foundation, came up with a message encouraging others to do the same, 'don't be fuellish!'  I feel guilty about receiving it and will gladly pass the money on to elderly people in need of it."
Jeffrey Archer

“It is a shocking fact that fuel poverty effects many thousands of older and vulnerable people in Sussex, and this campaign is a fantastic way for people to help those who cannot afford to pay their fuel bills and will be at risk this winter. I would encourage everyone who can afford to donate all or part of their Winter Fuel Allowance to consider doing so.”
Dame Vera Lynn

“When I tried to return my winter fuel payment last year to the Government, they refused to take it, and this year they’ve crossed me off the list – just when I wanted to give it to a Community Foundation.  So I’ve decided to give them a cheque in lieu.  

“The BBC’s You & Yours programme interviewed me last year, at the same time as they asked Justin Sargent, the Chief Executive of Somerset Community Foundation, to outline their Surviving Winter Appeal.  I thought it was just such a simple, brilliant idea; for people who didn’t need the payment to give it to people who do.  You can be sure that your money will go directly to the elderly who are cold or isolated, or who are unable to pay their fuel bills, because the Foundation already supports those smaller charities and voluntary groups, like lunch clubs and community transport associations who are in regular contact with these disadvantaged pensioners.

Peter Stringfellow

Supported by:

Saga magazine logo   NEA logo    

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