Today The Mail is throwing its weight behind the campaign to save the lives of older people in Cumbria by supporting the Winter Warmth Appeal.

With your help we’d like to end the suffering of pensioners this winter who may have to choose between eating and heating their homes.

It is a shocking fact that most winters 300 older Cumbrians die because of problems not being able to heat their homes or eat properly – and in worse winters the figure has risen to 500.

Your donations to the Winter Warmth Appeal will be paid out in grants directly to vulnerable local people in need, helping them to stay safe and well.

Last year 153 people in 130 households were helped in Furness by the Winter Warmth Appeal. They received a total of £23,040 to heat their homes. We spoke with dozens of older people who said the grants had made a crucial difference to coping in the winter months.

A Barrow woman in her 70s said: “My husband has vascular problems and is always cold, so we have the heating on from the moment he gets up to the time he goes to bed. He has been waiting two and a half years for an operation and it has been cancelled because of the pandemic. If we didn’t receive the grant, we would have to limit the heating to try and save some money. It has made a lot of difference.”

A 67-year-old Barrow woman said: “It was a godsend as it helps spread the cost over Christmas. I live in a private rented house and it is cold and big, so I have to have the heating on for an hour here or an hour there. It makes a big difference as it quickly burns a hole in your money. I am diabetic so I am glad of any help.”

Jean Lownds, 66, from Kendal, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I received the money last year,” says Jean. “It was absolutely wonderful, it helped me such a lot.

“It was such a relief.”

Jean had to leave her job at Asda because of ill-health but wasn’t able to draw her pension for seven months.

“I was really struggling. Money just stopped coming in and I didn’t know which way to turn,” says Jean.

“I was using very, very little heating because I was worried about the money. It was getting seriously cold in the flat.

“I used to go to bed at about 7.30pm and put the electric blanket on for one hour and then turn it off and just stay in bed until the morning, because it was too cold to sit up.

“I have Reynard’s disease which is bad circulation, and my legs could be so painful with the cold they would go purple.

“I used to dread it if there was going to be ice or snow because it would be so cold.

“I was just worried to death about the money a lot of the time.”

She received £150 and says it allowed her to put two heaters on in her flat.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to the people who donated to the Winter Warmth Appeal. It made a huge difference to me.”

The Winter Warmth Appeal is run by Cumbria Community Foundation in partnership with Age UK, which makes sure the money reaches those in need.

Last year, 1,166 Cumbrians were helped to keep warm, after Cumbrians donated more than £200,000 to the appeal.

And this year, any donations made between Monday, November 16 and midday on Monday, December 14 will be doubled with match funding to double the impact.

One in eight households in Cumbria is said to be living in fuel poverty.

Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “This money is crucial to help older people stay well and safe during the cold weather, and in some cases, it saves lives.

“More than 32,000 older Cumbrians live alone, many in poorly insulated buildings.

“We know how generous Cumbrians are - the Winter Warmth Appeal has raised £1 million over the last 10 years.”

Vanessa Sims, the regional group editor of Newsquest Cumbria, said: “We’re lending our support to the Winter Warmth Appeal this year to help ensure that Cumbria’s pensioners are not forgotten. I hope you will all support this appeal.”

How you can support the campaign with donations

Online or;

Cheque payable to ‘Cumbria Community Foundation’ (write Winter Warmth on the back) and post to Cumbria Community Foundation, Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0PN; Phone 01900 825760.

West Cumberland Farmers Ltd, the John Laing Charitable Trust, the Roselands Trust, the Johnson Fund and the Hadfield Trust have pledged £50,000 which will be used to match donations from the public.