Help Them

04 December 2010

 AS temperatures fall to –16 C, The Northern Echo backs a campaign to help elderly people trapped in their homes by the big freeze.

THE Northern Echo today backs a campaign to help elderly people survive the cold snap.

Readers are urged to support The Winter Relief Fund, managed by the County Durham Community Foundation.

The foundation has already contributed £10,000.

Anyone can donate, but it is hoped wealthier recipients of the Government’s £250 winter fuel allowance – paid to all over-60s – will use all or some of their payment to help those in greater need.

Sir Paul Nicholson, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Lord Barnard and Sir Tom and Lady Cowie are among the first to pledge their winter fuel allowance payments to the fund.

The money will be distributed to County Durham community and voluntary groups that work with the elderly and homeless.

Foundation chief executive Barbara Gubbins said the idea for the fund followed a report in The Northern Echo that charities and emergency services were mobilising volunteers to help pensioners stranded in their homes by snow and sub-zero temperatures.

With forecasters warning there is no end in sight to the big chill, people are being asked to check on elderly neighbours.

The plea, by Age UK, comes after two pensioners were found dead outside their homes in Workington and Kirkby Stephen, in Cumbria.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: “Good neighbours can make all the difference to the frailer members of society in this cold weather and we would encourage everyone to check on older people locally, particularly those who live alone.”