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Vulnerable older people living in fear of the bleak winter ahead

PUBLISHED: 19:21 20 November 2019

The Gatehouse Dementia Hub and Food Bank met last week to hand out food supplies to those in need and worries about the winter ahead were shared. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

The Gatehouse Dementia Hub and Food Bank met last week to hand out food supplies to those in need and worries about the winter ahead were shared. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Sylvaine Poitau

Explaining just how dire winter can be, Pat, an older woman who uses the Gatehouse Dementia Hub in Bury St Edmunds, said: "People don't put their heating on for fear of not being able to pay bills, some I know live in just one room, it's terrible."

Amanda Bloomfield is the chief executive of Gatehouse Caring and was at the food bank in Bury St Edmunds last week. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONAmanda Bloomfield is the chief executive of Gatehouse Caring and was at the food bank in Bury St Edmunds last week. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Pat was speaking out to raise awareness of the Surviving Winter and Winter Crisis campaigns, launched last week by the Suffolk Community Foundation.

Pat added: "I would urge anyone who is considering donating to this appeal to do so - our elderly are a forgotten generation who need looking after because they are so vulnerable."

The campaign asks those receive a winter fuel allowance but can afford to comfortably heat their homes to consider donating it to those less fortunate. People of all ages support the campaign each year, donating whatever they can.

"I would encourage anyone who receives a Winter Fuel Payment who doesn't need it to donate it to someone in Suffolk that does," said Pat.

Pat knows people who need to make the choice between eating and staying warm - a potentially life threatening choice. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONPat knows people who need to make the choice between eating and staying warm - a potentially life threatening choice. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

The annual Surviving Winter campaign aims to support older people living in fuel poverty and this year the foundation has also introduced the Winter Crisis appeal to ensure vulnerable people of all ages are warm and fed this winter,

Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive at Gatehouse Caring which runs the dementia hub and a foodbank, said: "We work really hard to ensure that those most vulnerable are provided with the nutrition they need to stay healthy."

She added: "That's said, food is only one element.

"The companionship required to maintain good mental wellbeing is also hit very hard during the winter months as the world closes in on those less mobile."

Wendy worries for her mother because now that she is older she doesn't move around as much and feels the cold keenly. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONWendy worries for her mother because now that she is older she doesn't move around as much and feels the cold keenly. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

Encouraging people to support the fundraising, Deidre, another of the service users at Gateway, said: "It's so important for people like me to stay warm in their homes during winter as we feel the cold so much more. Just putting another layer on or having a coat around your shoulders indoors isn't enough, you simply cannot get warm. It's important to be able heat your home and the appeal helps so many people in Suffolk to do this."

While Edmund added: "Being cold can make you feel really miserable. Fingers, toes and joints - they don't do their job as well as they should do.

"Go back 10 years and I wouldn't feel the cold at all."

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If you are able to give to either the Surviving Winter or Winter Crisis appeals, you can do so online here, by telephone on 01473 602602 or by going to any branch of Ipswich Building Society.

You can also post a cheque made payable to Suffolk Community Foundation, to The Old Barns, Peninsula Business Centre, Wherstead, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP9 2BB.

How much is the winter fuel allowance?

Edmund fears that even those in good health can suffer greatly when the cold hits. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATIONEdmund fears that even those in good health can suffer greatly when the cold hits. Picture: SUFFOLK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

The Winter Fuel Allowance is a one-off payment made to cover the three months of winter.

The following people qualify:

■ Aged 65-80 and lives alone - £200, which equates to £15 a week or £66.60 a month

■ Aged 80+ and lives alone - £300, which equates to £23 a week or £100 a month

■ Aged 65-80 and lives with someone else aged 65-80 who also qualifies - £100, which equates to £7.60 a week or £33.30 a month

■ Aged 80+ and lives with someone else aged 65-80 who also qualifies - £200, which equates to £15 a week or £66.60 a month

■ Aged 80+ and lives with someone else aged 80+ who also qualifies - £150, which equates to £11.50 a week or £50 a month

■ Aged 65-80 and lives in a care home, not getting certain benefits - £100, which equates to £7.60 a week or £33.30 a month

■ Aged 80+ and lives in a care home, not getting certain benefits - £150, which equates to £11.50 a week or £50 a month

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