While most of us enjoyed a relaxed time with our families over the festive period, others were fighting to just get by, or were struggling to even see the winter through.

We speak to the Dorset Community Foundation about their work and its limitless benefits.

From a single office in Dorset, a small group are working to make a huge difference across the county.

The Dorset Community Foundation was founded with one simple aspiration – to make a difference in the lives of others through thoughtful, effective philanthropy. 

Chief executive of the Dorset Community Foundation, Jon Yates, said: "We are a grant-making charitable trust, and also a fundraising charity.

"We have three types of grant. We have a bursary scheme which aims to level the educational playing field and to help young people from our county who facing a disadvantage who are looking for get through further education but need a bit of money to help them along the way. 

"We have our Surviving Winter Appeal which supports older people living in fuel poverty over the winter months.

"We also have community grants to help a group that is working to make a difference in the community and is something that the community relies on. 

"We are not a charity that goes out with buckets and tins, that's where we are different. We rely on ourselves to build relationships with people and businesses who are looking to help others. We are an engine for philanthropy."

Development director, Grant Robson, said: "I am responsible for bringing the money in. I identify those who have the good will to support cases in Dorset - both individuals and businesses.

"One of the things that makes us different is that we can be a way or using your donations to target a specific geographical area of issue.

"If someone comes to us wanting to donate £5,000 but would like it to help tackle poverty in Weymouth and Portland, we can do that. It doesn't just go into one big pot, money is specifically used for what is was intended.

"For example we have recently launched a joint fund with Kitson & Trotman to specifically support community groups in west Dorset."

Dorset Echo:

WORKING TOGETHER: Tracy Scammel, fromt Kitson & Trotman with Dorset Community Foundation chief executive

Daisy Ilchovska, marketing a communications manager, said: "Surviving Winter is our only appeal and with this, every penny counts.

"It is a vital appeal to help those at risk in the winter because of the colder weather, fuel poverty and social isolation.

"In 2014/15 there were 920 deaths which is absolutely shocking and 2015/16 saw 390 deaths."

The Dorset Community Foundation initially set a target of £40,000 but a pound for pound matching initiative means that more than £60,000 has already been raised.

The Appeal, which is in its seventh year, disperses donations to people over 60 years of age all across Dorset through the Citizens Advice Bureau network and also the Centre for Sustainable Energy.

The appeal ends in March.

Dorset Echo:

One elderly resident benefitting from the Surviving Winter Appeal

Daisy added: "There are about 4,600 community groups in Dorset working to make a difference, and we are working to make a difference by doing all we can to support them."

Since the foundation launched community groups and individuals across the county have benefitted from more than £10million.

Ellie Maguire, grants manager at the foundation, receives and reads all the applications for grants before presenting them to the panel for decision.

She said: "It is heartbreaking to see sometimes, the children that apply have very little and giving them even a small donation to help with transport or buying them a laptop makes such a significant difference."

One application for a STEM bursary read: "I am the second of four boys. I have one older brother and two younger brothers. I live at home with my mum and dad. My dad doesn't work at the moment because he is unwell but he is also a carer to my grandad who had a stoke in June this year. My mum works full time.

"My parents say they are proud of me for working really hard at my GCSEs. They want to be able to give me the best chance of succeeding in my course.

"Getting the laptop means I will be able to work from home without having to stay late in the library as the college says they are going paperless this year. It means I can be around to look after my little brothers after school when dad is at the hospital with my grandad."

Daisy added: "A lot of people don't realise what we do. We are not a normal charity. We do so much for so many and we're going to continue to do so for a long time."

Anyone who would like more information or would like to donate to the Surviving Winter Appeal can visit dorsetcommunityfoundation.org