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12 October 2015

Winter is the biggest killer for Wales' ageing society, says Care & Repair Cymru

Help us to stop vulnerable older people dying this winter because they cannot afford to heat and eat, says older people’s champion Care & Repair Cymru.

This week (October 12th) Care & Repair Cymru is shining the spotlight on the scandal of excess winter deaths as it launches its Fighting Fuel Poverty campaign.

The Wales-wide campaign aims to highlight the huge problem of fuel poverty and save the lives of thousands of older people in Wales, who might otherwise die this winter due to the cold weather.

Care & Repair Cymru’s Chief Executive Chris Jones said: “We want to raise awareness of this modern day scandal - there is no doubt that cold weather is a killer for older people. Older people should not be forced to choose between eating or heating their homes during the winter. More than half of single pensioner households and 27% of married pensioners in Wales are fuel poor and cannot even afford to pay their fuel bills1.”

It is estimated that 140,000 pensioner households in Wales currently live in fuel poverty2, and the Chief Medical Officer for Wales reported 1,100 excess winter deaths in 2012/13 with 70% of these aged over 75.

Highlighting the dangers older people face in winter, Chris said: “As we age, we become more frail and susceptible to respiratory and circulatory illness and less stable on our feet due to the impact of the cold on joints and bones. This often leads to devastating falls, injuries and a repeat cycle of falling. This means older people often have greater need for heating to function properly and keep safe and healthy. And high fuel bills often leave householders with less money available for food.”

Care & Repair Cymru also say that older people not having bank accounts, or being digitally excluded from the internet, can prevent many pensioner households from accessing better energy prices and tariffs, and households in arrears often end up on more expensive pre-payment meters, therefore exacerbating the problem.

During its Fighting Fuel Poverty campaign , the registered charity will be running fundraising initiatives to champion the rights of older people to stay independent, warm and well this winter by offering practical help on the ground at the homes of older people in need.

The Fighting Fuel Poverty campaign begins with a plea for donations which will directly help older people with boiler repairs, home insulation, and other practical help that make their homes warmer and safer. Some reports suggest that only 26% of those receiving a Winter Fuel Allowance payment are in fuel poverty3, and many people would rather see it going to those in greater need rather than receiving it themselves. Therefore the charity is appealing to those who receive Winter Fuel Allowance, who do not feel they need it, to donate directly into their fund so that they can re-distribute the money to help those in fuel poverty.

In addition, Care & Repair Cymru is running a ‘Let’s all Knit Together’ sponsored knit and inviting everyone to knit a scarf, with sponsorship proceeds as well as the scarves themselves going to help older people living in cold housing.

Care & Repair Cymru is also running the #scarfie campaign (a scarf selfie) to raise awareness of excess winter deaths. We’re asking people to support and donate to the cause by posting a #scarfie on social media and encouraging others to do so also.

Appealing to people to get involved with the Fighting Fuel Poverty campaign, Chris said: “We want to act now to help those in need. Together, our efforts and yours can mean that more older people in Wales stay alive, warm and well this winter.”

If you are an older person who thinks they could benefit from some help and advice from Care & Repair Cymru and its Fighting Fuel Poverty campaign, please call 029 2067 4830.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Fighting Fuel poverty campaign should go to: http://www.careandrepair.org.uk/support-us-to-do-more

And to find out more about the Lets all Knit Together and our #Scarfie campaign, follow these links: