We need your help this winter

Surviving Winter was started by people who wanted to donate their Winter Fuel Payment to help others in Somerset less fortunate than themselves.

Last winter, and with the support of over 300 donors, Somerset Community Foundation was able to provide vital grants to 390 pensioner households to help them through the winter months. So far this winter, nearly £90,000 has been donated by people like you from all around the county. Please help us reach our target of raising £100,000 this year! 

How to donate

You can support the Surviving Winter appeal by:

How your donation will help

One of our local partner organisations will visit an older person in need and make a grant to them face-to-face, which can be used to help them stay warm, active and healthy.

Giving grants directly in this way means that not only does an older person receive a vital grant, but they are also put in touch with a local charity that can help them to stay connected during the winter months. For that reason, some of your donation will also be used for essential services, like Meals on Wheels or community transport schemes. This year we are working together with two of our partners, the Community Council for Somerset and Age UK Somerset, to make sure that these benefits extend well beyond an initial grant payment. That way we can reduce the isolation and loneliness that many older people feel in the winter months.

The costs of running the Surviving Winter appeal are met entirely from your Gift Aid contributions, so you can be confident that your donation will reach those who need it the most. But for this reason we also ask you to please Gift Aid your donation if you are able to do so. Gift Aid can be added to donations made by cheque as well as those made over the telephone or online.

Why we need your help this winter

The figures at the top of this page are shocking. But the stories that our partners tell us about the difference a Surviving Winter grant can make demonstrate the real value of local giving (all names have been changed).

We were told about Mrs Warren, who lived alone in a static caravan. Her home was dreadfully cold during the winter and she could not afford to keep the heating on for long each day. So she used her Surviving Winter grant to buy more gas bottles and a warm blanket to help her stay warm. But that wasn’t the end of the story. The grant had put Mrs Warren in contact with her local Community Council for Somerset Village Agent who was able to help her move into a small bungalow where she is now warm and happy. The move was so successful that she now expects her own Winter Fuel Payment to be enough to keep the chill away over the coming winter.

Pictured here is Mrs. Watts. She had a fall 3 years ago and suffered an injury to her shoulder which continuously causes her a lot of pain. She also suffers from osteoporosis in her knee, septic arthritis and a heart condition. During the winter months Mrs. Watts has the heating on for most of the day and will sit next to the radiator. The cold really affects her joints so she wears long johns under her trousers to keep warm. The surviving winter payment will be used to purchase a warm pair of trousers and a long cardigan which Mrs. Watts will wear when she does the weekly shop on a Thursday. Surviving Winter has connected her to a case worker for Knightstone Housing, who connect her many other resources in the community to help keep Mrs. Watts warm and healthy.

A history of Surviving Winter

Surviving Winter began in 2010 right here in Somerset. We were contacted by one of our donors who offered to give his Winter Fuel Payment to help local pensioners struggling with the cost of staying warm and healthy. He wanted his donation to pay for the everyday essentials that most of us take for granted, such as heating, warm clothing and food.

From this simple idea Surviving Winter has spread across the country, raising £5.5 million nationally and £500,000 in Somerset alone. Over 80,000 older people have received a Surviving Winter grant during this time.

Last year we were able to provide grants to 390 pensioner households from all over Somerset, as the map below shows. Grants were made in both our towns and our rural communities.

Celebrity Endorsements

Val Stones, Great British Bake Off Contestant

"My husband, Ian, and I have been very lucky in thta our pensions allow us to have a decent quality of life, but we know this isn't the same for everyone. We are very happy to give our heating allowance to Surviving Winter because we know it will be used for good."

Michael Eavis, Founder of Glastonbury Festivals

"This campaign appealed to me right from the start. I'm so pleased that it's spread across the country with such amazing success. I think if all the people that can afford to buy their own fuel gave their allowance to Somerset Community Foundation, thousands of our pensioners would have a much happier Christmas. I’m very happy to donate my Winter Fuel Payment to Somerset Community Foundation again this year.”

The Rt Revd Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells

“Winter can be a hard time for older people in fuel poverty; they can additionally suffer the effects of greater loneliness at this time because money that could have gone on transport or social activities has to be spent on fuel. I know many people in Somerset need their top up payment from the Government, but if you don’t then can you donate to someone in greater need via the Surviving Winter appeal?”

Denise Robertson

“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.”

Sir Michael Parkinson

“I fully support the “Surviving Winter Appeal” to assist the elderly and 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 Terry Wogan

“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 David Jason

“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.” 

Dame Cleo Laine

“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.”

Rosemary Conley

“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 in Leicestershire and across the whole country like this, to make something really special happen.” 

Ann Widdecombe

“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.” 

Jonathan Dimbleby

“Your donations will make all the difference to thousands of vulnerable and elderly people in Devon. I do hope that you will join me to support the Surviving Winter Appeal this year.” 

Ros Altmann, The Saga Group (campaign sponsor)

“I am delighted to be supporting this brilliant initiative to help “recycle” winter fuel allowances from those who don’t need them, to help pensioners who do. We feel it is important, as part of a caring society, to enable people who want to help those who are at risk of fuel poverty to keep warm and well this winter.” 

Peter Smith, NEA (campaign sponsor)

"NEA is delighted to be supporting the Surviving Winter Campaign. As the national fuel poverty charity, we are only too aware of the dangers of living in cold damp homes, and with winter approaching many people will be dreading the prospect of cold conditions and high energy bills. Through the campaign, we hope to raise awareness of the 6.6 million UK households that are currently estimated to be in fuel poverty, as well as work with individual community foundations to deliver effective, tailored solutions that will permanently remove people from fuel poverty”. 


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