The County Durham Community Foundation Winter Warmth Fund is now in its eighth year of helping vulnerable people in County Durham & Darlington during the winter.

The campaign originally began as a vehicle for generous pensioners to ‘recycle’ their Winter Fuel payments, but it has now developed into a giving portal for anyone who wants to help support vulnerable people live well during the winter.

Research emerges every month that shows the impact fuel poverty is having on the lives and wellbeing of people and their communities. It is expected that nearly a third of the UK are concerned that they will have to go without gas or electricity at some point this winter. Others will go without hot food so that they can save money in order to heat their homes. Last year there were an additional 335 excess deaths during winter in County Durham alone – and a third of these related directly to the cold and to fuel poverty.

So far this year, the Community Foundation has awarded over £15,000 to groups and individuals in need, with thanks to Four Seasons Health Care who kindly donated £2,500 to support this year’s Winter Warmth campaign.

Four Seasons Health Care has a long-standing fund with the Community Foundation to support activities and outings for elderly people near Four Seasons Care Homes in County Durham and Darlington.

Marjorie Condacos from Four Seasons Health Care said:

“With over 20 Four Seasons care homes located in the wider Durham and Darlington area, this is a region close to our hearts and we are pleased to have been able to make a positive difference to the lives of elderly people during what at times has been a very cold winter.

“The County Durham Community Foundation works very hard to bring partners together to support vulnerable elderly people in their local community and we are proud to add our funding to their efforts.”

A grant from the Community Foundation helped Age UK County Durham, who work to promote the wellbeing of all people aged over 50, to deliver their Keep Warm Keep Well campaign. Fuel poverty and poor access to information and support can lead to social isolation, loneliness, poverty and poor health, and their aim is to ensure older people are fully prepared, not only for the winter months, but all year round.

The funding enabled Age UK to distribute information packs across the region. Packs included a room thermometer, information on boiler replacement schemes and advice on how to stay safe from rogue traders and nuisance callers who can prey on vulnerable older people during winter months.

Using community outreach approaches, staff were also able to distribute blankets and food parcels in response to referrals and identified need. They also arranged social activities to bring older people together for friendship and gentle exercise in community venues to reduce social isolation.

Christine from Age UK County Durham said:

“Each year we work hard to reach more older people who are vulnerable to cold weather and social isolation. Thanks to the grant from the Community Foundation, this year we have been able to reach over 2,500 older people in need, more than ever before. We have been able to organise large ‘Keep Warm, Keep Well’ roadshows with other agencies in communities and set up new, ongoing activities for older people. We boosted our grant from the Community Foundation with over £2,000 in other food and non-food donations to support our work. Thank you to all who contribute to this fund to help us make a difference.”

If you are interested in giving to the Winter Warmth fund, to help make this and next winter a time for all to be safe and warm, please visit