Bishop backs winter fuel poverty appeal

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AN appeal to help pensioners cope with winter fuel bills has had practical backing from the Bishop of St Edmundsbury.

The Right Rev Nigel Stock is supporting The Suffolk Foundation’s Surviving Winter appeal by donating his Government Winter Fuel Payment so the charity can use it to help elderly people in the county who are struggling to meet the bills for keeping warm.

While talking to members of Grundisburgh Lunch Club about their problems coping with cold winters, Bishop Nigel said: “This is a simple campaign that I am very happy to endorse. For people who don’t need their Winter Fuel Payment, we’d like to ask them to consider donating it in this very direct way to help those who really do need extra help.”

Another who has pledged her payment is Clare, Countess of Euston, who is president of Age UK Suffolk and vice-chairman of The Suffolk Foundation. Lady Euston, whose family own the Euston estate near Thetford, said: “When I turned 60 recently, I was surprised to find that I am eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment. I want to donate my Winter Fuel Payment and give my backing to a national campaign that will make a genuine difference this winter particularly here in Suffolk.”

The foundation says all money it receives will be spent by Age UK Suffolk in Suffolk, where NHS figures show that over the past three years there have been an average of 409 ‘excess winter deaths’ each year. It is estimated that almost half the 5.4 million UK households in fuel poverty are over 60.

Foundation chief executive Stephen Singleton said: “It is vitally important to provide a channel for those who want to help the most vulnerable members of our community to get through the winter with dignity. We hope others will see what is being done and also wish to lend their support.”

To donate to the appeal either visit www.localgiving.com/survivingwinter or call the Suffolk Foundation office on 01473 734120.