NEARLY 20,000 pensioners in Doncaster are living in fuel poverty, according to shocking new figures.
An appeal to help elderly people survive the winter has now been launched after it was revealed an estimated 17,000 over 65s in the borough cannot afford to heat their homes.
The figures also revealed around 88 more people aged over 65 died in Doncaster last winter than in any other season last year.
The findings show that around 80 per cent of these excess winter deaths were a result of circulatory or respiratory diseases, which are exacerbated by cold weather conditions.
The South Yorkshire Community Foundation (SYCF) has launched the Surviving Winter Appeal, to encourage people to make donations to help older and vulnerable people affected by fuel poverty this winter.
The campaign was originally inspired by individuals who wanted to donate their Winter Fuel Payment from the Government to support older and vulnerable people who are less fortunate than themselves.
Now everyone is being encouraged to donate.
Pauline Grice, chief executive of SYCF, said: “Surviving Winter aims to encourage those who can afford to, to support those in need for whom the Winter Fuel Payment is not nearly enough.
“The Winter Fuel Payment is an absolute lifeline to the 17,000 older people who are living in fuel poverty in Doncaster and it is clear to see just how much local people truly rely on it.”
The Winter Fuel Payment is a tax free payment made by the Government during November and December to people over the age of 60. The amount people ranges from around £150 to £300 depending on people’s circumstances.
All monies donated will go straight into the Surviving Winter Fund which will provide support to older and vulnerable people who are suffering because of fuel poverty.
Households are considered to be in fuel poverty if they have to spend more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel to keep their home in a satisfactory condition.
Nationally 33 per cent of pensioners are believed to be living in fuel poverty.
One of those backing the scheme is Sylvia Allsop from Balby who says rising fuel bills make it difficult to heat her home.
Mrs Allsop said: “It doesn’t feel very comfortable at all. You can get yourself warm in one room but then you go into another room and its absolutely freezing. Then you have to start all over again trying to get warm.
“I try to make sure I have enough gas in my token meter, but sometimes I just pull the blanket over me to save a bit of money.
“I get about £250 and it goes straight on to my gas. I’m sure that some people don’t use it for gas, but some elderly really do need it.”
Donate via the internet www.sycf.org.uk/survivingwinter or via post to Surviving Winter Appeal, South Yorkshire Community Foundation, 6 Leeds Road, Sheffield, S9 3TY making cheques payable to South Yorkshire Community Foundation.