As the nights get darker and the temperature drops, Norfolk Community Foundation is once again launching its annual Surviving Winter appeal, providing vital support to help vulnerable people across Norfolk get through the cold winter months.

Norfolk Community Foundation and St Martins staff and volunteers outside the St Martins donation station in Norwich

Despite the seasonal bonhomie that many of us think of traditionally each year, the onset of the winter months can be a worrying time for many people in Norfolk. The combination of bad weather, colder temperatures and the effects of rural poverty can be a tangible, sometimes disastrous, combination for vulnerable individuals and families. During the winter of 2016/17 there were around 590 excess winter deaths in Norfolk, a significant increase compared to the year before when there were 390 deaths.

And it is not only the county’s older residents that feel the pinch. Winter can be a significant concern and challenge for a much broader range of isolated and disadvantaged people, such as rough sleepers, families who cannot afford to heat their homes and those who are isolated and lonely. The aim of the Surviving Winter appeal is to provide essential support to people who are struggling and in serious need, to stop them from failing into crisis.

Together with our partner organisations, local older people’s charity Age UK Norfolk, homelessness charity St Martins and local foodbanks who work tirelessly on the ground to support those in need across the county, we are once again taking action this winter to help ensure that vulnerable people receive the help they need.

From providing support to help rough sleepers off the streets long term, to helping families heat their homes and keep their children warm, to alleviating loneliness amongst isolated older people who may have no-one else to talk to, the Surviving Winter appeal will transform local lives. For some, this support could mean the difference between life and death.

Making a difference to vulnerable people

Through last year’s Appeal, through the generosity of local people and businesses, together with our appeal partners we made a significant difference to these vulnerable groups:

  • £11,373.14 was provided to 58 households to help them with the cost of fuel, or contributions towards boiler replacements and fuel debt
  • Over 200 older people received weekly calls with local befriending volunteers, easing loneliness and isolation
  • Norfolk foodbanks issued 202 fuel vouchers, helping 302 adults and 200 children to stay warm. In addition, £3,500 worth of ‘winter packs’ were distributed to those in need which included socks, gloves, hats etc.
  • 14 homeless people were given a break from living on the streets, offering many the opportunity to turn their lives around
  • Grants worth over £63,000 were distributed to local organisations to support their work with vulnerable groups on the frontline, including people with learning disabilities, deprived communities and isolated older people.

Claire Cullens, CEO of Norfolk Community Foundation, said:

“Winter is a worrying time for so many, and Norfolk Community Foundation is stepping up to take action to support those who are vulnerable across the county to help them avoid real crisis. Every penny that you can donate to the appeal will make a real difference to those in our local communities who are struggling this winter.”

How can you help?

The Surviving Winter appeal needs urgent help from local people and businesses to support the most vulnerable in our communities. Every penny donated will go directly to local charities to enable them to provide essential help to some of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk from right now, through to spring.

Donate online now quickly and securely

Alternatively please make a cheque payable to Norfolk Community Foundation and send it to Norfolk Community Foundation, St. James Mill, Whitefriars, Norwich, NR3 1TN, or telephone the Foundation on 01603 623958.

Every donation, no matter how small, will make a difference to local lives.