A NORTH-EAST charity is urging well-off older people to donate all or part of their winter fuel payment to the needy.

The call comes from the County Durham Community Foundation, which has launched its Surviving Winter campaign to help the elderly, vulnerable, homeless and families with small children living in fuel poverty.

During the winter months in County Durham and Darlington, an additional 280 people die as a result of the cold and poor living conditions, with more than 58,000 households living in fuel poverty – spending more than ten per cent of household income on heating bills.

In the more rural areas, such as Wear Valley and Teesdale, almost 50 per cent of households are affected.

Barbara Gubbins, chief executive of the foundation, said 108,900 people in County Durham and Darlington received the winter fuel payment of between £100 and £300.

“If just a small percentage of those who feel they do not need the extra payment donated it to our campaign we would be able to help thousands of vulnerable people survive the winter."

She added: “When you consider that 35 per cent of older people turn their heating down, or fail to use it at all in order to save money during the winter months, and 375,000 households in the North-East can’t even afford to heat their homes, it is not difficult to see the scale of the challenge.”

To donate by text send WARM10 £10 to 70070 or visit cdcf.org.uk and click on the Surviving Winter logo to make an online donation. Alternatively post a donation to FREEPOST CDCF.