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Every year, thousands of eligible individuals receiving a State Pension are paid a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ by the government. This is an allowance between £100 and £300 to contribute to household heating bills.

The Heart of Bucks Winter Warmth campaign is encouraging people who receive this payment and are able to pay their heating bills to donate it to help vulnerable people keep warm this winter. Any donation from anyone, however small, can have a big impact on a struggling person or family this winter.

It has been a difficult year for all of us, but for vulnerable people in Bucks the colder weather is going to pose an even bigger problem than in previous years. With many out of work, working reduced hours or otherwise struggling financially, heating their home is going to be a challenge. For many, it won’t even be an option.

Winter Warmth helps vulnerable people across Buckinghamshire who struggle to keep warm in the cold months, including older people, lone parents with children under the age of five and households requiring additional heating because of a household member with a disability. The recipients not only receive a one-off grant to help them keep warm, but also receive support, resources and guidance for Heart of Bucks’ Community Advocates. Even the smallest donation can make a big impact – in addition to granting money towards heating bills, donated funds are often spent on warm winter clothing and items to keep warm in the home: something as small as a hot water bottle or a kettle.

Grace* fell into arrears with her fuel provider after she had to claim Employment Support Allowance for mental health problems.

As a result, she was forced to pre-pay for heating (in the form of gas bottles) until the arrears were cleared. Grace had to self-isolate during COVID-19 with no heating or hot water as she could not afford the minimum spend required to fill only half the tank.

A local Community Advocate applied to the Winter Warmth fund on her behalf, negotiated with her gas supplier so they continued providing fuel whilst she was self-isolating and gave her financial support to clear some of the arrears.

Grace said, “It was like a life line. I suffer [with my] mental health and worrying about the debt and being cold was sending me down again and I was becoming very overwhelmed. To be given the gift of warmth is a true blessing”.

*Name changed to protect the individual’s identity

If you are able to help, you can donate your winter fuel payment, or whatever you can afford, on our Winter Warmth Total Giving page. One of the great benefits of donating such a payment to a charity is that, if you are a taxpayer, you can gift aid your donation and instantly increase the value by 25%.

Not online? You can still donate by sending a cheque made payable to ‘Heart of Bucks’ to: Heart of Bucks Winter Warmth, Sunley House (4th floor), Oxford Road, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP19 8FQ.