Community Foundation Network (CFN) has launched its 'Surviving Winter' campaign, to encourage people to make donations to help older and vulnerable people who cannot afford to pay their fuel bills.

The launch of the campaign, which is backed by Stephen Fry and other prominent celebrities, coincided with the Winter Fuel Payments – which some recipients feel they don't need, yet others find is not enough.

The campaign, partnered by Saga (www.saga.co.uk/money/news/saga-surviving-winter-appeal.aspx), aims to raise money to help vulnerable older people stay warm and well this winter.

Stephen Hammersley, Chief Executive of CFN said:

"Winter is a dangerous time for the UK's older people. There are 7 million households living in fuel poverty. Around half of those include somebody over 60. Many are faced with the stark choice: fuel or food. The colder weather also causes health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, and bronchitis. Winter can also be a time when older people become more cut off. Some may be unable to get out to doctor's appointments or to the shops for food."

"Surviving Winter is about matching those vulnerable older people in need over the winter with those who can help, on a local level. As a leading philanthropic organisation, CFN has the expertise to match money with need across the country."

"Last year CFN helped over 20,000 people through the Surviving Winter campaign: providing hot meals, blankets and help with bills. We want to help even more this year. If you want to donate, go to:  www.survivingwinter.org.uk. We aim for every pound raised to be a pound spent on someone in need. You could help an older person survive this winter."

Stephen Fry said:

"The Surviving Winter appeal is a simple yet brilliant idea. Millions of vulnerable and older people struggle with fuel poverty, and with the weather getting colder and energy prices on the rise, they are more at risk than ever. It makes so much sense that those who can help, donate to the appeal. I support it wholeheartedly, as the community foundations make sure that any donations reach those in need very quickly."

Ros Altmann, Director General of Saga said:

"Every year, the winter freeze poses a very real problem for older people struggling to keep warm. With rising fuel costs and the Government's decision to cut the Winter Fuel Payments last year, vulnerable older people are suffering a double whammy, so Saga is fully behind this venture, helping channel donations into the right hands and helping older people keep warm and well.

"We are particularly concerned about the statistics showing that the UK has a higher winter death rate among older people – over 25,000 each year - than other European countries, even those with much colder winters than ours. We are aware that the UK has a much less energy efficient housing stock than most of Europe, meaning older people need all the help they can get to keep their homes warm.

"Of course, it need not only be pensioners who donate money – anyone can help. Winter Fuel Payments are an essential lifeline for many pensioners during the cold winter months and we strongly oppose any move to means-test this benefit as those who need the money may not receive it. This initiative facilitates a way for those who don't feel they need their Winter Fuel Payment to donate it to someone who is struggling with the cost of heating."