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Each winter, one older person dies needlessly every seven minutes. Spread the Warmth is Age UK’s campaign to help older people stay well during winter.

Why do we need a Spread the Warmth campaign?

Each winter, 1 older person dies needlessly every 7 minutes from the cold - that’s 200 deaths a day that could be prevented.

As we get older, our bodies respond differently to the cold – increasing the likelihood of a heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, and breathing difficulties. Of the winter deaths that happen every year, 9 in 10 are older people.

Age UK estimates that 1.7 million older people in the UK can’t afford to heat their homes, and over a third (36%) of older people in the UK say they live mainly in one room to save money.

Cold weather adds to the financial worries of older people. 30% say they avoid heating rooms like the bedroom, bathroom or living room because they are worried about the cost.

- Read the best ways for older people to stay healthy when it’s cold

Poorly-insulated homes

The UK has some of the worst levels of home energy efficiency in Europe, and other much colder countries have much lower death rates in winter than the UK because their homes are better insulated.

With high quality insulation and modern technology, millions of UK homes could be made much warmer. And the Government could pay for this using the billions of pounds they already raise in carbon taxes. This would bring down bills, and above all, help millions of older people keep warm and healthy through the winter.


Every year 3.5 million ‘older people in the UK say they are dreading the cold weather in winter. Over half a million older people spend Christmas Day alone.

Cold weather also makes it more difficult for people to get around – which can lead to depression, loneliness, and isolation.

How Age UK helps older people in winter

Local Age UKs offer a very wide range of services* to help older people feel warm and well in winter:

  • We distribute essential items like clothes, heaters and electric blankets to keep older people warm.
  • We provide free information and advice to ease financial worries, and help older people to feel warm and well.
  • Our handypeople provide energy services, like fitting draft excluders and radiator foils, as well as help with practical tasks around the home.
  • We offer shopping support so those with mobility issues can get what they need.
  • We run Christmas parties and provide befriending services to help fight loneliness.

Find your local Age UK

Get in touch with your local partner to find out what services they offer

* Please note services offered by local Age UKs vary.

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081