SIR John Hall has backed an appeal to get people to donate their winter fuel allowance to people in greater need.
The former Newcastle United chairman served lunches at the Shildon People’s Centre in County Durham to back the Surviving Winter campaign run around the country by Community Foundations.
The appeal, managed by the County Durham Community Foundation, calls on those who can afford to forego their Winter Fuel Payment to donate it to help those for whom it is not nearly enough.
Money raised by the appeal will be given to community groups running winter programmes to help the elderly and vulnerable, as well as to individuals living in fuel poverty to help them buy energy- efficient household items.
The Community Foundation will also be working in partnership with organisations such as National Energy Action to provide workshops to older and vulnerable people in order to help them out of fuel poverty in the long term.
Fuel poverty is defined as the need to spend over 10% off household income on fuel costs to maintain adequate warmth for health and comfort.
One community group which has already received a grant from the appeal is the Shildon People’s Centre which has a daily luncheon club mostly attended by single elderly and vulnerable people who cannot cook for themselves.
The club provides hot meals in a friendly and sociable environment and is essential for the health and wellbeing of many of these people.
Sir John said last night: “There are so many people in our region who are lonely and just need a little bit of help.
“It’s an absolute privilege to able to offer some to such an important initiative.
“There are many people who are well off enough that the fuel allowance is not vital to them.
“It is such a wonderful thing to be able to do for certain people.”
More than 400 people died in County Durham and Darlington last winter from causes directly attributable to poor living conditions and the cold, and over 58,000 households live in fuel poverty.
In more rural areas, such as Wear Valley and Teesdale, almost 50% of households are affected by fuel poverty with 33% of people living in fuel poverty in the North East.
Anyone wanting to help the people can text send WARM10 £10 to 70070, or visit www.localgiving.com/survivingwinter to make an online donation.
To find out more about the Surviving Winter Campaign, visit cdcf.org.uk/surviving-winter-appeal or follow @SurviveWinterNE.