DORSET Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign has broken its 2022/23 target by raising more than £100,000 to keep the county’s elderly and vulnerable warm and safe.

The campaign, which has been supported by the Echo’s Put In A Pound Appeal, raised £104,000 – £18,000 more than last year.

Now in its 13th year, it works with Citizens Advice to fund £200 fuel grants pensioners and vulnerable people aged 50 and over living in fuel poverty, as well as providing help with benefits and energy saving advice from the charity’s advisors.

This year’s campaign has been supported by people from all over the county and bolstered by donations from family seals design and manufacturing company Superior Seals in Wimborne, Sovereign Housing and the Dorset Echo and Bournemouth Echo’s Put In A Pound Appeal, which asked readers to donate £1.

Tom Flood CBE, the community foundation’s chair of trustees, said: “We are absolutely delighted by the amazing support we have received this year from Superior Seals, Sovereign Housing and readers of the Echo newspapers. The generosity shown by all of them – and everyone else who has donated – has pushed our total over our target and ensured that we have been able to make even more grants.

“This is so vital in a year that has seen even more people plunged into fuel poverty because of the rising energy prices and the cost of living crisis. With food inflation now at 17 per cent and the cost of energy is going through the roof we are being told by our partners at Citizens Advice just how desperate a situation it is for people who are being forced to choose whether they eat or heat their homes.”

East Dorset and Purbeck Citizens Advice, which works with the foundation on behalf of branches in Dorset, said it has seen inquiries about help with fuel bills spike. Nationally Citizens Advice said January was the highest month on record for people coming to it because they were unable to top up their pre-payment energy meter.

Business development manager Katrina Ford said: “I think it is fair to say we have not seen anything like this before and demand is not slowing.

“More than ever the funding from Surviving Winter is vitally important.”

Dorset Community Foundation, which was founded 22 years ago and supports hundreds of grass roots charities and voluntary groups across the county with grants every year, matches donors with causes they care about and is Dorset’s largest county-based funder.

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