THE Community Foundation for Wiltshire and Swindon has launched its Surviving Winter appeal to raise money to help older and vulnerable people stay warm and well this winter.

Originally inspired by people who wanted to donate their Winter Fuel Payment to others who were in greater need of it, the Community Foundation for Wiltshire and Swindon collects donations and in partnership with other local agencies such as Age UK and the Citizens Advice Bureau, and distributes them as grants directly to older and vulnerable people across the county.

As part of a national campaign backed by SAGA and endorsed by numerous celebrities, the appeal is being launched for the third year running in Wiltshire, at a time when the over 60s will soon be receiving the Government’s universal Winter Fuel Payment.

Rosemary Macdonald, chief executive of The Community Foundation for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “Winter is a dangerous time for older people.

"There are 35,500 households in fuel poverty in Wiltshire which is 12.4 per cent of the county’s population. Over half include someone over the age of 60.”

Fuel poverty, defined as needing to spend more than 10 per cent of the household income on fuel, causes and exacerbates serious health problems.

According to the Office of National Statistics, more people die in the UK due to the cold weather than in many other European countries including Finland.

Last year nearly 400 of these were in Wiltshire.

“We are also tackling the problem of isolation among older people during winter," said Mrs Macdonald.

"Older people can become more cut off and struggle to leave the house in the colder months.

"Last year we distributed over £63,000 in grants as a result of the Surviving Winter campaign and this year we hope to help even more.

"If you are not fuel poor, please think about donating some or all of your Winter Fuel Payment. You could help an older person survive this winter."

For more information, or to make a donation, call 01380 729284 or log on to and click on the Surviving Winter link.

Any donation is welcomed, whether you receive the Winter Fuel Payment or not and all donations will be distributed locally.