Winter appeal to support poor people in Hertfordshire forced to choose between eating and heating

Many elderly people are anxious about how they will afford their heating bills each month. Picture:

Many elderly people are anxious about how they will afford their heating bills each month. Picture: Shutterstock. - Credit: Archant

A winter appeal is set to help people forced to choose between heating or eating, with rising energy costs, low incomes and energy-inefficient housing some of the driving factors behind one in 11 homes in Herts being classed as ‘fuel poor’.

Fuel poverty means a household's energy costs are above average and their remaining disposable income after paying their bills puts them below the poverty line.

Being cold can lead to increased blood pressure and a lower immune system resistance, which in turn can lead to respiratory infections.

In some cases these can become life-threatening.

According to the Office for National Statistics, between August 2014 and July 2017 more than 2,100 people in Hertfordshire died due to poor living conditions in winter.

The effects of fuel poverty can be devastating and lead to social isolation, poorer physical and mental health, lower educational achievement and rationing of food and other essentials.

Each year, the grant-giving charity Hertfordshire Community Foundation conducts a winter appeal to raise money to help those most in need in the county to stay warm and well during the coldest months.

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The charity's director, Helen Gray, said: "Each year, the foundation sees an increase in the demand for support from this appeal.

"We hear of families forced to choose between buying food and paying their rent, of terminally ill individuals who are constantly cold but can't afford to heat their homes sufficiently, and of elderly people who are anxious about how they will afford their heating bills each month.

"The roll-out of Universal Credit, rising fuel prices and higher costs of living are all resulting in more people struggling in Hertfordshire.

"Our winter appeal provides much-needed support. Donations of any size are welcome and every penny raised stays within Hertfordshire.

"The appeal is also a great way for those who receive the Winter Fuel Allowance, and don't need it to pay their own bills, to help someone else."

Donations can be made via, by bank transfer to account number 28592379 sort code 60-10-39, or by sending a cheque made payable to 'Hertfordshire Community Foundation' to HCF, Foundation House, 2-4 Forum Place, Fiddlebridge Road, Hatfield AL10 0RN.

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