ANYONE giving to Dorset Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter appeal between now and the end of December will have their donation doubled thanks to an anonymous benefactor.
Director Grant Robson said the benefactor wants to help encourage more support for the appeal, which is run in partnership with Citizens Advice offices across the county and gives grants of £200 to help people aged over 65 or those over 50 with disabilities living in fuel poverty to help with heating bills.
More than 19,000 people in Dorset live in fuel poverty and over the last five years an average of 590 people have died in the county from cold-related illnesses.
“This is an amazing gesture and we are very thankful for the generosity of this benefactor,” said Mr Robson. “We have been asking anyone who receives their government Winter Fuel Payment, which can be as much as £200, but feels they don’t all or some of it, to donate it to the appeal. If someone donated their £200 the match funding would make it £400.
“That would double the impact of that already generous support.”
Kate Pryce, project manager at East Dorset & Purbeck Citizens Advice, is working closely with the community foundation to co-ordinate applications and heating grant awards across the county via CAB offices.
If someone donated their £200 the match funding would make it £400
She said: “It is amazing to hear this match funding offer, what a boost to the fundraising. It is going to make a real difference to us and enable us to help so many more clients. It is fantastic news.”
She said the charity has been busier than ever dealing with enquiries about the grant because people, especially older people are finding the winter tougher after the effects of two cold spells, rising energy prices and the escalating cost of food and other household goods.
Former community care worker Rachel Stokes, who had to retire from work early in 2017 after contracting meningitis and sepsis, received a grant last year. Ms Stokes, who still struggles with her health and can’t walk far from her bungalow, said: “I was so pleased to get the grant because I do get anxious about how I’m going to pay the bills. You try to be careful but it is very difficult.
“I have been shielding because of my condition so I have been at home a lot, but I can only have the heating on for so long.”
Last year the community foundation helped a record number of people stay warm after raising £100,000 but Mrs Pryce said the rise in cost of energy and food will force older and vulnerable people to go without one or the other.
“We wonder what older people are going to do because they will have really tough choices on what they spend their money on and what they go without,” she said.
Mr Robson said he hope the prospect of seeing a donation doubled will persuade more people to donate to the appeal. “Every year the people of Dorset step up and help this appeal keep more and more older and vulnerable people warm. This is a golden chance over Christmas to double that generosity and reach even more people for whom this time of year is one of struggle and anxiety.”
Donate to Surviving Winter here.
Pictured above: Surviving Winter grant recipient Rachel Stokes, left, and a member of the Citizens Advice East Dorset & Purbeck energy advisory team