Fund to help county's poor survive the winter

A charity has launched a fundraising drive to help those who will be struggling to cover their heating bills over the winter.

One in eight people could be forced to choose between heating and food this winter
One in eight people could be forced to choose between heating and food this winter

The Community Foundation Staffordshire, which has launched the Surviving Winter fundraising page to help people in South Staffordshire and Cannock, said one in every eight people would be forced to make a choice between food and heating over the winter.

Surviving Winter is an annual campaign fighting such poverty with the programme raising money to target the vulnerable to ensure they stay warm, fed and well over winter.

Official government figures show that 1.7 million children and six million older people struggle for food and warmth in the winter.

But the Sustain charity said the figure was as high as 8.4 million, with ethnic minorities, the disabled, children and the elderly most at risk.

Steve Adams, chief executive of Community Foundation Staffordshire, said he expected the problem to be particularly acute this year due to the coronavirus.

The foundation has set up a page on the Just Giving website where people can make donations, and has also set up a service where people can donate by text.

Mr Adams said most people who fell into food poverty struggled because their income was too low or unreliable, compounded by an increase in the cost of living.

Food bank charity the Trussell Trust said it gave out a food parcel every nine seconds during winter.

Mr Adams said: “The Covid-19 Pandemic has had a serious impact on many families’ income and finances throughout 2021.

"This means thousands more children than normal are facing food poverty this Christmas and winter, as well as numerous elderly residents struggling to afford their basic heating costs. We want to make a difference."

Mr Adams said those struggling to get enough to eat would include working households and families with children

"It is estimated to be even worse this year due to coronavirus, with many people facing unemployment and unable to access crucial support services due to isolation," he said.

"This has led to many people being faced with the difficult choice of paying either for their heating or being able to afford sufficient quality meals daily. It’s astounding to think that this is happening in 2021.”

Mr Adams said the foundation was ideally placed to directly target those in need through its network across the county.

"We are getting reports from community groups and teachers that support is critical this year due to Covid-19," he said.

"Many older people stay silent due to pride. Youngsters do not know where to look for support.

"Plus, a side effect of food and fuel poverty is that school children’s education will suffer now and so affect their chances of success in the future. With help we can ensure that these people get help quickly and effectively.”

Donations can be made on the website staffordshire.foundation/partnershipsinitiatives/survivingwinter21/. People can also text SWSTAFFS to 70085 and donate £5 (plus standard message rate). Corporate donors can email office@staffordshire.foundation to discuss their requirements.

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