THE Oxfordshire Community Foundation is launching its fourth annual Surviving Winter campaign this month and is focusing on combating isolation among older people.
With the weather turning colder, people are urged to do their bit to help reduce the potential death toll among the elderly, by supporting the Surviving Winter campaign.
Jayne Woodley, chief executive of Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) said: “Every year people die needlessly, and this is a particular problem among older people because of declining health, fuel poverty and isolation.
“However, OCF knows from past experience that people coming together and donating to or fundraising for the Surviving Winter fund, can make a real difference to vulnerable people in our community.
“Last year we gave grants totalling more than £12,100 to 11 volunteer-led community groups who provide support and friendship to the elderly through the cold weather months and beyond.
“This year, donations received by Surviving Winter will also be distributed to groups which are alleviating isolation by promoting social interaction and gentle exercise, which is proven to benefit health.”
According to OCF, 360 people across the county lost their lives in 2011 as a result of cold weather.
Groups helped by last year’s Surviving Winter Campaign included Towersey Memorial Hall committee in Towersey, near Thame, which received £1,000 towards the refurbishment of the popular village meeting place.
Committee chairman Robert Walsh said: “Towersey has a large, older population and the Memorial Hall hosts weekly coffee mornings, an art club, a singing group and an annual Christmas lunch for the older members of our community.
“The Surviving Winter grant was used in a large project to refurbish the side wings of the building, install accessible toilets and upgrade the kitchen – and we were very grateful for the donation.”
In recent years, Oxfordshire Community Foundation has also distributed government-funded Warm Homes Healthy People (WHHP) grants to individuals and families across the county with fuel poverty.
The grants of between £200 and £350 were used to pay utility bills and update old boilers and heating systems.
But this year the money has been redirected.
Jayne Woodley added: “Instead of Warm Homes Healthy People grants, funding of £5.45 billion (for 2013-2015) will be given direct to local authorities nationally to address public health priorities determined at local level.
“Regrettably, without the WHHP funding the OCF will not be in a position to enable fuel grants to assist individuals to pay bills this year.”
She said identifying needs specific to a county was a more sustainable use of government funds and would benefit more people.”
To make a donation to Surviving Winter visit: oxfordshire.org and click on the donate button at the top. For cheque donations make them payable to Oxfordshire Community Foundation and send to 3 Woodin’s Way Oxford OX1 1HD.