Coat campaign bid to stem winter death toll

New figures show an extra 210 people died last winter on the Fylde coast compared to the other seasons. Below: Coun Christine Wright.
New figures show an extra 210 people died last winter on the Fylde coast compared to the other seasons. Below: Coun Christine Wright.
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Huge energy bills that mean many elderly people struggle to heat their homes are being blamed for scores of winter deaths across the Fylde coast, it was claimed today.

New figures show an extra 210 people died last winter on the Fylde coast compared to the other seasons – 80 of them in Blackpool.

Blackpool Councillor 'Coun Christine Wright

Blackpool Councillor 'Coun Christine Wright

The Office for National Statistics data shows a 14 per cent increase in deaths between December and March.

There were 70 excess winter deaths in Wyre last year, a 15 per cent rise on other seasons, and another 60 in Fylde – up 20 per cent, which is in line with the national average.

Now town hall chiefs have teamed up with Age UK to help keep residents warm in a bid to prevent the annual rise in deaths during the colder months.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “A dangerous combination of high energy costs and poorly insulated homes is leaving around a million older people struggling to keep warm every winter.

“Those living in rural areas are at even greater risk because so many properties are poorly insulated, making them harder to heat.”

As well as producing a booklet to advise the elderly on what support is available to them, the charity has also launched its Donate a Coat 
appeal in Blackpool.

Working with the council, it hopes to collect hundreds of unwanted coats that it will either donate to those in need or sell to raise money.

Although excess winter deaths in Blackpool have fallen steadily since 2010, when the figure stood at 140, council bosses today welcomed efforts being made to bring them down further.

Coun Christine Wright, Blackpool Council’s Older People’s Champion, said: “The unfortunate reality is there are many elderly people who are living in poverty or on very low incomes.

“I’m sure the people of Blackpool will rally round and look to help them by donating to the campaign.”

Unwanted coats can be donated at:

* Age UK Blackpool’s Abingdon Street office

* Its stores on Highfield Road, Red Bank Road and Whitegate Drive

* Palatine Library, on St Annes Road

* Moor Park Library, on Bristol Avenue