If you would like to receive individual support from the Surviving Winter Appeal, you can contact Citizen’s Advice on 01473 298634 or visit their website: Surviving Winter – Citizens Advice Ipswich  To make a donation to support The Surviving Winter Appeal, please give online by clicking the button above, telephone 01473 602602 (during office hours), or visit any branch of Suffolk Building Society to make a payment over the counter.

Normally by this time of the year we would be reflecting on a job well done and the conclusion to our annual Surviving Winter appeal. But these aren’t normal times.

With energy prices having risen towards the end of the winter and further increases scheduled for October, a significant number of families and households continue to need support. According to Suffolk County Council, even before the pandemic, it was estimated that over 48,000 households across the county were ‘fuel poor’. Now that gas, oil and electricity prices have all increased it is likely that in excess of 50,000 households are now suffering the effects of fuel poverty with the risk of worse yet to come.

In a previous blog update we explained how we had made changes to Surviving Winter, including that support is now available all year round for those in need. The changes were very much focused on tackling the root causes of fuel poverty and reducing dependency on ongoing annual assistance, enabling us to help more people. The changes included more intensive assistance with things such as home energy efficiency improvements and maximising the income of those supported, as well as the provision of grants for part payment of gas, oil and electric costs. It is pleasing that this approach has proven to be successful.

The map below shows the breadth of areas across Suffolk that have received support since November 2021.

Our new support model is very much built around the understanding that although winter is when the most energy is used, there is a consequence to this increased use and cost that is very often felt throughout the year. For example, we know that if someone falls into arrears during the winter, they may not be able to pay off the arrears during the spring or summer, or where they do it is at the expense of adequate nutrition and diet. Furthermore, they are unable to build up a buffer of savings or credit on their account to help them through the next winter, leaving them in a perpetual cycle of problems requiring further support. By operating Surviving Winter all year round, we, with our project partners, and the support of our donors, are able to work in a more impactful way preventing hardship and lifting households from poverty.

Over the past decade, Suffolk’s Surviving Winter appeal has raised over £1.2m and heated the homes of thousands of people in need across the county. Thanks to the generosity of local people, last year alone £298k was raised and 1500 households supported – representing the highest ever received in donations and numbers supported respectively.

If you are able to please do donate to Surviving Winter. By supporting the appeal you are making a huge difference to local lives – below are real messages of thanks received from those who have benefitted from Surviving Winter over the last few months.

This grant gives me that extra peace of mind. As an elderly lady I like to receive my grant directly into my bank account as I like to keep my independence in sorting my bill while I can. Having this help is greatly appreciated as I can stay warmer and use other electrical items as I am all electric the cost mounts up. With covid this has been worse as I felt isolated due to my health and age. I have arthritis in my hands as well as carpal tunnel so I cannot write as much as I would like to thank you so much for your help.

I think the grant has helped me breathe more easily. The pandemic has had a terrible impact on my work and income while energy prices have kept rising. I live in a draughty old house on my own and it’s a challenge to keep it warm.

Thank you so much for the help you have provided, it is a great help, especially now with energy costs rising. I have COPD and feel the cold in the winter months so the grant allows me to heat this small flat alleviating the worry and stress to a degree. Thank you for all your help.

My husband passed away a few years ago and I was very worried about paying all my bills out of my pension. This grant has been a god send as I can have my heating on longer without having to worry.