A local charity supporting Shropshire’s older people is asking for donations of the winter fuel payment to help those who struggle to pay their bills.
Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin set up a scheme four years ago to assist older people who experience difficulties paying gas or electricity bills. The scheme invites those who can manage without the winter fuel payment to donate it to Age UK, who can then pass it on to older people who really need it to keep warm.
According to a survey by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Shropshire may have as many as 19,135 homes classified as ‘fuel poor’; this equates to 14.6% of all county households. Even more alarming, the report states that in 2014/15 there were 191 excess winter deaths in Shropshire – 2.5 times the national average.
Age UK’s Heather Osborne said, “We’ve seen an increase in calls from those who are struggling to pay their bills. Nearly 50,000 homes are off the mains gas grid resulting in more expensive heating fuels, such as oil, LPG and electricity. This Surviving Winter Grant Fund gives another option for people wanting to donate, knowing they will be helping someone in need.”
If you feel you can manage without your payment, call Age UK Shropshire Telford & Wrekin on 01743 233123, mentioning the Surviving Winter Grant Fund, or visit ageuk.org.uk/shropshireandtelford.
and advice on keeping warm this winter…
Winter brings additional challenges to those in rural areas, particularly for those who have medical conditions or who are older. Shrewsbury-based charity Marches Energy Agency, who run the Keep Shropshire Warm advice service in partnership with Shropshire Council, are keen to get the message out to local residents that support is available.
Keep Shropshire Warm is a free and impartial energy advice service providing practical help about grants and energy choices. Older residents can also have a free Home Energy Check, in conjunction with Age UK. As well as giving advice, a handyman can fit energy efficient bulbs and install draught-proofing to keep out the cold.
Keep Shropshire Warm is also encouraging people with increased needs to join the Priority Services Register, a free service provided by Western Power Distribution, which will inform about planned power cuts, give updates in the event of an unplanned power cut and provide help, if needed, through the British Red Cross.
Keep Shropshire Warm’s Davina Allen said, “Our support ranges from making sure someone’s on the right tariff to securing funding for a full heating replacement. Many people call on behalf of a family member or neighbour they’re concerned about. We’d welcome calls from residents in and around Much Wenlock and Bridgnorth and hope even more people stay warm and well this winter.”
Keep Shropshire Warm can be contacted free on 0800 112 3743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.