Many older people are especially vulnerable during winter. Michelle Jay, Fundraising & Communications Officer at Age UK Norfolk, discusses how the charity is helping to provide support through the Surviving Winter appeal and a forthcoming event where you can find out more about the help available.

Nearly a million older people are just one big bill away from financial disaster with the reality of trying to meet the extra costs of ageing on a low income.

Pensioner poverty numbers have once again increased, with two million pensioners now living in poverty in the UK and nearly a million (930,000) saying they would be unable to pay an unexpected bill of £200, according to recently released government figures.*

Surviving Winter appeal

Age UK Norfolk have been working locally with Norfolk Community Foundation for eight years on the Surviving Winter appeal, a campaign which helps to support older people in Norfolk with one-off crisis support grants to help them pay fuel costs over the winter months. Over the last eight years, we’ve helped to distribute £250,518.24 of grants supporting older people over the colder periods.

Research shows that exposure to the cold can have a devastating impact on the health of older people, who are particularly vulnerable to the impact of low temperatures. As people get older it takes longer to warm up which can be bad for people’s health. The cold can also increase blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, and breathing in cold air can increase the risk of chest infections.**

Age UK Norfolk, in partnership with Norfolk Community Foundation, have officially launched this year’s Surviving Winter appeal and are urging any older people in Norfolk struggling to stay warm and pay their heating bills to contact the charity to see if they are eligible for support.

Other ways the campaign helps

Alongside the one-off crisis support grants, Age UK Norfolk are thrilled to have received a donation of £5,000 via the Surviving Winter appeal to help support our Telephone Befriending service over this coming winter. The funding boost will enable the charity to make approximately 1,250 calls to lonely older people, helping to ease feelings of loneliness and isolation and increase wellbeing.

Kath McCarthy, an Age UK Norfolk Telephone Befriending volunteer, says,

“The people I call really enjoy the social contact and I like talking to people too. Often people mention other issues such as struggling with their heating fuel costs or issues with care and I’m able to refer them to other departments within Age UK Norfolk such as our Information and Advice team for additional support.”

“I’m getting older and who knows, I may need the service myself one day!”

How to access Surviving Winter appeal support

If you or somebody you know are aged 60+ and are in desperate need of a one-off crisis support grant to help with winter fuel costs, please contact Age UK Norfolk’s advice line on: 0300 500 1217 or email

Come and meet the team!

On Wednesday 18th December Age UK Norfolk are hosting a Christmas Meet Up at the Elms Business Space in Old Catton; offering older people and their friends and families the opportunity to come along for some festive refreshments and a chat. We’ll also be on hand with information about the Surviving Winter appeal for anyone who wants to find out more.

Join us on the 18th December at 10am-12pm at the Elms Business Space, 7 The Elms, St Faith’s Road, Old Catton, Norwich, NR6 7BP.