Winter this year will be tough for many of us, but for some older people it will be very difficult indeed. This is why charity, Friends of the Elderly, has launched its 2022 Winter Warmth Appeal. Money raised by the charity will fund its grants service, which pays for essentials that older people living in poverty cannot otherwise afford.
Friends of the Elderly has been supporting older people for over 100 years. From serving up ‘Penny Dinners’ to WWI veterans to awarding grants to older people living with financial difficulties, supporting older people to live well is at the heart of everything the charity does.
This year’s Winter Warmth Appeal focuses on helping older people through the cold, dark and difficult winter months. As the cost-of-living crisis worsens and energy bills skyrocket, an increased number of older people are expressing their fear and trepidation about keeping warm and safe through the winter.
Talking about the Charity’s 2022 Winter Warm Appeal, Friends of the Elderly’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Wilson said: “We receive applications for grants to support older people who have nowhere else to turn. The requests we receive are not for elaborate items, they are to help with energy costs, pay for essentials such as a new washing machine and in some cases to pay for funeral costs for a loved one. We know how difficult times are for everyone at the moment, so we really appreciate anything people are able to give. Any donation to our Winter Appeal will go directly to helping older people in need.”
Friends of the Elderly were recently able to help George with a grant. George is retired and lives with his wife in a small cottage. The couple, who live off just George’s basic state pension, keep count of every penny, often struggle to cover the basic costs of living and rarely eat three meals a day.
Over the last few years, all of George’s life-savings have been spent on house repairs; so much so, that when the couple had a leaking, dripping tap, they couldn’t afford to fix it. To add to their problems, last winter, their boiler broke and they had no oil. George recalls: “December was hell. It was bitterly cold in the house with no heating or hot water. We would sit wrapped up in our coats with blankets round us. At 7 O’clock, we would go to bed and lay coats over the top of the duvet to keep us from shivering. It was grinding us down.”
George’s health suffered as he consistently kept waking up at 2 a.m. most mornings from stress and anxiety. He applied for jobs but was unsuccessful so left with no other route, he sold their belongs at boot fairs. “There was no other way out. I want to be free of this worry – your last years in life should not be miserable,” he said.
George had exhausted all avenues and had nowhere else to turn. Thankfully, Friends of the Elderly helped George with a grant of £400 to repair his boiler and buy oil. George added: “It really has made an unbelievable difference. It is wonderful. It was a relief. We are warm, something we’ve not known for a long time. We are so grateful.”
It is astonishing that almost one million pensioners are unable to afford an unexpected bill of £200, which means something as simple as a broken boiler or burst pipe can plunge them into despair. This can leave older people choosing between food and fuel, often having to turn off their heating off on the coldest days of winter (1).
The Charity’s 2022 Winter Warmth Appeal is vital to those older people at risk this winter. It will provide grants to cover the cost of basic essentials such as food, warm clothes, heating and insulation for homes. It is imperative for vulnerable older people to keep warm as colder temperatures increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, flu, pneumonia and in extreme cases, hypothermia.
Mark concluded: “Helping older people like George is the foundation of our 2022 Winter Warmth Appeal. It’s what it is all about – helping older people to keep warm, healthy, comfortable and safe.
“Our Appeal is enormously important as it allows us to help, support and make physical, noticeable and actual positive differences to many older people, their wellbeing and daily lives during the cold and lonely winter months.
“Every penny we receive is match-funded by the Edward Gostling Foundation and goes towards making sure older people do not feel cold or forgotten this winter.”
George finished by saying: “My wife and I have always chatted about what we’d do if we won the Lottery. We both agree that we would want to help people out in similar situations to us. Quietly and anonymously help them out, so they don’t have to go through what we have.”