THE better off in Somerset are being asked to give up their Winter Fuel Payment to help keep vulnerable people warm over the coming months.

Somerset Community Foundation is asking those who can afford it to give up their payout to help others struggling to pay heating bills.

The foundation is hoping to beat the amount of donations from last year's Surviving Winter campaign, which raised more than £100,000.

SCF estimates that around 6,500 pensioners in the county face a stark choice between heating and eating.

A spokeswoman said: "Shockingly, in Somerset almost 11 per cent of households live in fuel poverty, and cold weather is a prime cause of over 500 preventable deaths a year - often worsened by living in older or isolated rural homes.

"Last year over 500 elderly people living in Somerset were helped to stay warm and well through the cold winter months, thanks to the generosity of local donors who donated over £100,000 to Surviving Winter.

"SCF hopes to build on the fantastic support they received last year to help even more older people in the county this winter."

Online donations to the campaign during the Bug Give Christmas Challenge from noon on Tuesday, December3 until midday Tuesday, December 10, will be doubled, helping even more older and isolated people across Somerset feel warm, safe and well this winter.

Glastonbury Festival organiser and Surviving Winter supporter Michael Eavis is endorsing the campaign for another year.

He said: "The Surviving Winter campaign appealed to me right from the start.

"If everyone who can afford it gave their Winter Fuel Payment to Somerset Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter appeal, hundreds of our pensioners across Somerset would have a more comfortable winter.

"I’m very happy to donate my Winter Fuel Payment to Somerset Community Foundation again this year."

If you would like to donate to Surviving Winter, visit or call 01749-344949.

A donation form is also available to download from the Somerset Community Foundation website.

For information on how to apply for a Surviving Winter grant, contact either the Community Council for Somerset on 01823-331222 or Age UK Somerset on 01823-345610 or visit

Under the Winter Fuel Payment, if you were born before April 5, 1954, you could get a payment of between £100 and £300 to help pay for your heating bills.