Could you donate your winter fuel allowance to somebody who needs a helping hand this Christmas?

A charity has warned that hundreds of pensioners throughout north-west Essex will have to choose between heating and eating as temperatures plummet.

To help ease anxieties around fuel and food bills, Essex Community Foundation (ECF) has launched its Surviving Winter appeal.

The foundation is asking people who receive a Winter Fuel Payment to consider donating it to the appeal, if they don't need it to cover their own costs.

The money will go directly to people in need throughout the county to help them stay warm and safe this winter.

Andy Payne Worpole, head of programmes at ECF, said: "Rising energy and food costs will cause many older and vulnerable people to worry about turning on their heating this winter.

"This can be extremely dangerous to their health and wellbeing.

"Our Surviving Winter Appeal is a direct way to help people in need in your local community to stay warm, safe and connected with others.

"Every donation, whatever the amount, will help to make a significant difference."

The Winter Fuel Payment this year is open to anybody born on or before September 26, 1955.

It is not means tested, so anybody within the age bracket can receive a payment of between £100 and £300.

If you do not receive the payment automatically, you can claim online ( or by phone: 0800 731 0160.

There are growing concerns around poverty among older people in the UK.

That is why we want to be There With You This Winter - to highlight who needs help in our community, and where you can find help if you need it.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), 2.11 million pensioners faced poverty after paying their household bills in 2019/20.

This is the highest figure since 2003/04.

If you would like to contribute to ECF's Surviving Winter appeal, you can donate online ( or contact the ECF team by phone: 01245 356018.

Organisations which support people with their bills can apply for ECF funding online ( or by phone: 01245 356018.