DORSET Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter Appeal has helped more than 40 pensioners with their heating bills.

As the cold weather this year has meant that residents’ heating has stayed on for longer, Dorset Community Foundation has been able to provide some of the most vulnerable with direct financial support to offset the costs of winter.

It has been estimated that the average heating bill for March 2013 alone could be as much as £165, according to research by, the price comparison site.

Despite recent sunshine, Dorset Community Foundation says that it is particularly concerned for vulnerable pensioners who will choose to save money by turning down the heating, even during the colder temperatures.

Support from the Surviving Winter programme is still available to anyone over 60 on a low income, with grants of up to £200 available through the Dorset Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Those struggling with fuel poverty, warm essentials such as clothing and blankets can also be made available.

Daisy Ilchovska, campaign manager at Dorset Community Foundation, said: “Unfortunately more and more elderly people are struggling with fuel poverty.

“The cost of heating a home has risen much faster than rises in the state pension and related benefits, which puts a lot of vulnerable people at risk as many elderly people choose to save money by turning down their heating.”

The campaign for 2012/13 raised more than £17,000 from individual donations from people who receive, but do not need, their Winter Fuel Allowance, which was boosted by a £1,000 donation from Magna Housing.

Numerous groups which support the elderly and vulnerable during the winter months, such as lunch clubs, transport and carers groups, were also helped by the foundation, thanks to Dorset County Council’s scheme Keep Warm Keep Well Keep Safe fund.