Snow fell in Manchester last weekend prompting hopes for a white Christmas but plummeting temperatures will put many elderly people at risk this winter.
To help pensioners meet higher heating costs during the coldest months, the government distribute the Winter Fuel Allowance to all pensioners, resulting in the wealthy receiving this benefit as well as the impoverished.
This has prompted a handful of celebrities to announce they will donate their payment to pensioners in financial hardship, which has sparked strong feelings that this will put pressure on others to give up their allowance.
Derek Barton, Secretary of the North West Regional Pensioners Association said : “In my opinion all pensioners should get the Winter Fuel allowance regardless of income, for those who are better off some of it will be clawed back through taxation.”
The Pensioners Association argue that responsibility for eliminating pensioner poverty should remain with the government who have sufficient funds in the national pension pot to pay a decent pension to everyone and increase the winter fuel allowance, which was lowered this year.
The Surviving Winter Appeal, the official name for the celebrity endorsed campaign, is being organised by The Community Foundation Network and driven by Forever Manchester in the Greater Manchester region.
Lauren Walker, Project Development Officer said: “Only those who are able to, are encouraged to give their winter payment to people more in need.
“The campaign was inspired by those who wanted to give up their winter fuel payment to support those who are less fortunate than themselves, the campaign isn’t restricted to donations of winter fuel payments – this is how the appeal originated, anyone who wishes to can make a donation of any size.”
Lynsey Cottle, a Community Engagement Worker for the group ‘Voluntary & Community Action Trafford (VCAT), stated that she thought the appeal was a great way for people with spare money to help someone who may be struggling to keep up with their fuel costs over the winter months.
She said: “It is often easy to forget those less fortunate, especially over Christmas and this way people can show they care by donating what they can afford to support a vulnerable person over the winter period.”
Despite welcoming donations to the elderly this winter, Miss Cottle thinks that a multi agency approach is needed to help those susceptible to fuel poverty.
“In Greater Manchester the AWARM project trains frontline staff and volunteers to identify individuals or families suffering from fuel poverty and refers them for additional support, and I believe more projects like this should be available to ensure no-one has to struggle with the cost of heating this winter.
Information on the Surviving Winter Appeal and how to donate, can be found on http://www.communityfoundations.org.uk/about/survivingwinter and further information on current campaigns by the National Pensioners Convention and VCAT visit http://npcuk.org/ and www.vcatrafford.org.