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Source : Age UK
Published on 01 November 2010 12:30 AM
Charity launches Spread the Warmth campaign to help millions stay warmer this winter.
Over half of people aged 60 plus in England are likely to be dreading the cold weather this winter with those at the bottom of the social scale twice as likely to be fearing a cold spell as the richest, new research from Age UK reveals today (1).
As the Charity launches its Spread the Warmth campaign to help people in later life stay warmer this winter, the research provides further evidence of the struggle millions of older people are likely to face over the coming months.
While recent figures showed the number of older households in fuel poverty in England has risen to 1.7 million, the new survey suggests worries about paying for heating bills are far more widespread. Two in five people aged over 60 (4.6 million) say they are concerned about being able to afford their energy bills, while nearly a third (3.6 million) are likely to resort to extreme measures to keep warm: last winter, almost one in three over-60s took drastic actions to fend off the cold, including wearing coats and scarves inside (15%), living in just one room to contain the heat (11%), staying in bed during the day (4%) and going to a public library (2%).
The figures also reveal that social class makes a huge difference to older people’s experience of winter. Not only are those at the bottom of the scale twice as likely as those at the top to dread the cold weather (66% ABs vs 33% DEs), they are also over three times as likely to say they ‘couldn’t get warm’ last winter (14% vs 4%), almost three times as likely to have ‘cut down on going out with friends and families’ (8% vs 3%) and nearly three times as likely to have lived in just one room to contain the heating (17% vs 6%). Fears of a particularly cold weather come against a backdrop of rising excess winter deaths among the over-65s in England, which soared by nearly 50 per cent between 2007-08 and 2008-09 following an extremely harsh winter (2).
To help alleviate this needless suffering Age UK has launched its Spread the Warmth campaign. Running throughout the winter, the campaign will focus on helping older people stay warm as well as reminding neighbours and friends of what they can do to help. Age UK can help by providing advice, support and practical services to cope with issues like heating, health and human contact. There are many ways in which people can get involved in the campaign, from making a much needed donation to looking out for older people in the community. People can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director of Age UK, said:
'What lies behind this widespread fear of cold weather are pressing social issues, such as nearly two million pensioners living in poverty and millions of older households anxious about being able to afford keeping warm this winter.
'While the Government’s decision to protect Winter Fuel Payments will make a big difference to the lives of many low-income older people this winter, our research shows there is still some way to go to take the fear out of winter.
'Through the Spread the Warmth campaign we want to raise awareness of the difficulties many older people face in winter and let them know that Age UK can help them. We want as many people as possible to get involved in our campaign so we can offer the best support to those older people who need it.'
Penny Smith, TV presenter and Age UK Ambassador, said:
'I’m supporting Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign because I feel really strongly that no older person should be shivering away in 21st century Britain. I want as many people as possible to get involved so that, together, we can make a real difference to those in later life who suffer needlessly at this time of year.'
Older people and their families can call Age UK Advice for free information and support on 0800 169 65 65, where they can also order a free copy of ‘Winter Wrapped Up’, a guide sponsored by British Gas. Alternatively they can visit www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk to download the guide and get more information. To find out about the help and support available locally, people should phone or visit their local Age UK or Age Concern – details of which can be found by calling 0800 169 87 87 or by visiting www.ageuk.org.uk.
There are lots of ways to help Age UK Spread the Warmth this winter. People can make a donation simply by calling 0800 169 87 87 or visiting www.spreadthewarmth.org.uk. They can also download a copy of The Choirgirl Isabel’s Christmas single ‘You are not Alone’ from Monday 13 December. Or people could de-clutter their wardrobe for a good cause. There are more than 500 Age UK high street shops across the country that would be delighted to receive once-loved quality clothing, accessories, home wares, CDs and books for someone else to love again.
- ENDS -
Case studies of older people struggling with the cold are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact the Age UK media team on the number above.
Omnibus research was conducted by TNS on behalf of Age UK. TNS interviewed a sample of 1,154 people aged 60+ in England. Face to face interviews were conducted between 20th-26th October 2010. TNS is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. The Age UK family includes Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI
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We have a number of experts available for comment, including:
Caroline Abrahams is Age UK’s Charity Director, and has worked predominantly on children and family issues throughout her career.
She was Director of Policy and Strategy at the children’s charity Action for Children and Chair of the End Child Poverty campaign before joining the Local Government Association.
She then moved on to become Senior Policy Adviser in the Department for Children, Schools and Families and more recently she has been an adviser to the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls.
Her policy interests include poverty, public service reform and safeguarding.
James is head of our research department in Age UK.
His responsibilities include:
He has a Visiting Professorship in Ageing at Loughborough University.
Jane Vass is Head of Public Policy at Age UK. She joined Age Concern England as Financial Services Policy Adviser in 2006.
She was previously an independent consumer consultant and writer specialising in financial services from the consumer viewpoint.
In this capacity she undertook research such as reports for the National Consumer Council on equity release and on savings and investments for low-income consumers.
She was a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel from 1999 to 2003, and from 1983 to 1993 she worked for Consumers’ Association.
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