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Hundreds of empty slippers launch charity warmth appeal in Cumbria

Cumbria Community Foundation set up the Winter Warmth Appeal in 2010 Photo: Cumbria Community Foundation

A charity in Cumbria is urging the public to help keep older neighbours warm in the winter months.

Cumbria Community Foundation has created an image of 300 pairs of slippers, on Surprise View near Keswick, to represent the amount of lives lost during winter months in the county.

Figures show that the total of 300 lives lost is simply an average, with numbers rising to more than 500 in the coldest winters.

The image comes as part of Cumbria Community Foundation's Winter Warmth Appeal, which was set up in 2010.

It has since raised more than £600,000 to prevent the elderly becoming ill or even dying because of the cold.

The charity’s chief executive says many people don't realise the severity of the issue:

It’s easy to become complacent about the numbers and not think about what they mean. Our photo illustrates that each one of those older people matters, they are someone’s mum or dad, gran or grandad, brother or sister, husband or wife.

Bringing the slippers together for this photo made me stop in my tracks, it made me realise just how many people we lose unnecessarily.

More than 120,000 Cumbrians receive the Government's Winter Fuel Payment and to many it's a lifeline, but for those that don't need it, we can pass the money to someone who is choosing between heating and eating this winter. Maybe we can help keep some of those slippers in front of a warm fire, where they should be.”

– Andy Beeforth, chief executive, Cumbria Community Foundation
£3,848
has been raised so far, but this makes 5% of the charity's goal - as it aims to raise £120,000.

In West Cumbria, a 74-year-old man described the grant as meaning he didn’t have to wear his overcoat in the house to keep warm, he said:

I have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and asbestosis and if the temperature drops I can’t breathe properly and I can’t talk. If we can keep the heating on, I can breathe and talk normally....

Being pensioners, we can’t just put the heating on when we want. This grant means we can have it on more often though and we’re very grateful for that."

– 74-year-old man, West Cumbria

What can help you to keep warm this winter?

  • Wear several thin layers to help trap warm air close to the body
  • Wear clothes made from wool, cotton or fleecy fabrics
  • Cut out draughts and stop heat escaping by drawing curtains
  • Keep windows and doors closed – this will keep heat inside
  • Keep moving, even doing chair based activities like wiggling your toes
  • Make sure you have a flu jab
  • Have your heating system serviced regularly
  • Fit thermal linings to curtains to help to keep the heat in

As part of raising awareness and money, the charity holds The Big Sleep event where fundraisers give up their warm clothes for a night out in the cold. You can find out more about it by watching the video below.

To find out more information about the Winter Warmth Appeal visit https://www.cumbriafoundation.org/winter-warmth-fund/