Surviving Winter

Hundreds of older people in Somerset are forced to choose between heating and eating every winter.

Many older people are extremely anxious about the high cost of energy and with no plans for additional government help with bills this year, our Surviving Winter grants are more crucial than ever. We know many of the poorest pensioners will consider not turning their heating on at all or cutting back on food to save money.

Around 10,000 Somerset pensioners will find themselves living in fuel poverty this year – almost double the number in the same situation last year.

If you can afford to, please make a personal gift, or donate from your Winter Fuel Payment to support our Surviving Winter appeal. Your gift will be used to provide vital Surviving Winter grants and support. Together, we can reduce financial anxiety and make sure people can keep themselves warm, safe and well this winter.





Your donations to our Surviving Winter appeal will help us make sure around 800 vulnerable older people across Somerset have the support they need to get through the winter. We want to give peace of mind to as many older people as possible this year by increasing the value of our Surviving Winter grants of up to £500.

Your gift will help provide:

Audrey’s story

Audrey is in her seventies and lives alone. She’s often worried about money and that a sudden unexpected expense could force her into debt. She told us about how the Surviving Winter grant was a lifeline last year, and as the weather starts to get colder, what she faces this winter.

“To be honest I don’t know quite how I manage at the moment. Right now I’m £2.92 overdrawn and I’m incredibly careful with what I spend money on. I live on my own and I have to be very frugal. I have an old car because I like to be independent and allow myself a limited amount of petrol money a month. I save on my hot water where I can and I’m always careful with my heating – so even though it’s getting colder now, I still don’t put it on. I’m 72 and I really feel the cold in my little place.

Last winter was very stressful. The energy company was telling me I owed them money – even though I didn’t, and I was worrying about the disasters that could happen, like the boiler breaking. They all have a call-out charge before they’ll fix anything. And you just think: where am I going to find that extra money from? I’d have had to go further into my overdraft – and if that happens it’ll be almost impossible to catch up with myself. It can all feel so very unfair, sometimes.

It was just so fantastic to get the Surviving Winter grant. I really needed that money – and it came at just the right time.”

How to donate

You can support the Surviving Winter appeal by:

  • making an online donation: it’s quick and easy to donate and add Gift Aid to your donation
  • calling us on 01749 344949 to make a telephone donation by credit or debit card (Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm)
  • sending a cheque made payable to ‘Somerset Community Foundation’ with the reference SW on the back to our address at the bottom of this page. We can boost the value of your donation by 25p of Gift Aid for every £1 you donate if you print, complete and return this Donation Form along with your cheque.
Please note, to maximise your gift we will no longer be sending a thank you letter/receipt unless it is requested.

The difference you’ve made since 2010

Surviving Winter began in the winter of 2010/11 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 heating their homes.

From this simple idea Surviving Winter has spread across the country, raising millions of pounds nationally and over £1,235,000 in Somerset alone*. Over 99,000 older people have received a Surviving Winter grant since the first appeal.






Surviving Winter grants

Surviving Winter grants are available for older people living in Somerset, who are unable to adequately heat their homes. Our Surviving Winter charity partners this year are listed below. If you are in need of a grant, in the first instance, please contact Citizens Advice Somerset on 0808 27 87842 or Age UK Somerset on 01823 345610.

AGE UK Somerset (Countywide)

Centre for Sustainable Energy (Countywide)

Citizens Advice

Community Council for Somerset (Countywide)

Health Connections Mendip

Live West

MHA Communities

SSAFA Somerset (Countywide)

West Somerset Green Forum


*Correct as at Oct 2023

**Updated 25/10/2023

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