A local charity that runs an annual campaign to support people who are struggling to stay warm in winter has said that help is needed ‘more than ever’ this year.

The Shropshire Rural Communities Charity (RCC) Warmer Winter Appeal raises funds to give out as grants for emergency fuel and energy-saving improvements in people’s homes. The campaign has helped almost 200 households in the county since it began in 2011.

While anyone can support the campaign, the charity is asking people who receive the Winter Fuel Payment and who feel like they don’t need it to consider donating it.

Winter Fuel Payments are distributed by the government to everyone over State Pension age, regardless of income and whether they are still working. This year the amount available is between £100 and £300, depending on age and circumstances.

Julia Baron, Chief Executive of Shropshire RCC, said: “We understand that this year has been immensely challenging for everyone but we are concerned that, as is often the case, those who are the most vulnerable suffer the most at times of crisis.

“We are facing the prospect of a long winter with restrictions limiting what we can do and potentially keeping us at home more. For some people that means spending more time in a cold, damp place that could cause them to fall ill, exacerbate pre-existing conditions or even cause death.

“We are so grateful to the people in Shropshire who have given to our appeal over and over again, and this year their support is needed more than ever to help people survive this winter.”

More than 16,000 households in Shropshire and almost 8,000 Telford & Wrekin are living in fuel poverty, figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show.

A large number of homes in the county are also ‘off gas’ so fuel choice is limited and can be expensive.

Shropshire RCC partners with referral agencies to find people most in need and provide them with insulation, draft exclusion and other energy saving measures.

It also works to raise awareness about how households can make simple changes to reduce their costs while still keeping warm.

To donate to the Warmer Winter Appeal, visit Shropshire RCC’s fundraising page here: www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/WarmerWinterShropshireRCC