Woman's emotional story shows how vital Suffolk's Surviving Winter appeal has become
A woman has told how it was "hard to accept" she had to turn to the Surviving Winter appeal for help after losing her husband - as the campaign is launched again this year.
The record-breaking Surviving Winter appeal will be joined by a sister campaign in Suffolk for the first time this year - because more people than ever need support.
Hundreds of people in the county donated their government winter fuel payment last year to support Surviving Winter.
The campaign asks those who can afford it to give up the payment so it can go to someone in greater need.
It raised more than £125,000 - a record for the appeal, run by the Suffolk Community Foundation - and helped pay heating bills for more than 800 homes of vulnerable older people.
"Often I just can't stop crying because I'm so frustrated and scared about the future"
Christine from north Suffolk is just one of the hundreds of people helped by last year's Surviving Winter appeal.
Having lost her husband earlier this year, she found herself in financial difficulty, unable to pay for oil for her central heating.
She said: "I need to get out to meet people to stay well in my mind, but I live in the countryside and I can't afford to travel and have the heat in my home that is vital for me to stay physically well.
"I've been using the last of my coal and staying by the fire in my living room because I didn't have any money to buy oil for my central heating, the rest of the house is very cold without that, my bedroom and bathroom are terribly cold and the winter hasn't really even started yet.
"I've always been a very strong person, but often I just can't stop crying because I'm so frustrated and scared about the future.
"The Surviving Winter appeal is the sort of thing I would have given to in the past and at this time last year I would have been making up a box for the local food bank, I always did that every year.
"But now it's me who needs the help.
"It's really hard to accept, but I have to and I can't tell you what a huge relief it has been to receive help from this appeal.
"For me and many other people in Suffolk, it must be a life saver.
"I'm so grateful to everyone for their generosity, gentle understanding and kindness."
How you can help Surviving Winter or the Winter Crisis Appeal
As this year's appeal is launched, a second 'Winter Crisis Appeal' is also unveiled. This will help vulnerable people of all ages.
Tim Holder, from the Suffolk Community Foundation, explained: "This year, with over 83,000 people of all ages living in deprivation in Suffolk we'd ask everyone to please continue to help older people by giving to the Surviving Winter Appeal.
"But with almost 20,000 children living in poverty in Suffolk we've also set up a new appeal for everyone to support - the Winter Crisis Appeal.
"All donations to this appeal will be directed to support people of all ages to stay warm this winter."
Organisers encourage anyone who needs the winter fuel payment to keep hold of it this winter.
However, if you are able to donate it, or are one of the growing number of people of all ages who wish to make a donation to the appeal, they will be happy to receive your support.
The appeal, in partnership with the East Anglian Daily Times, Citizens Advice, Warm Homes Healthy People, Rural Coffee Caravan, Meet Up Mondays, Ipswich Building Society, Flagship Group and Age UK Suffolk, launches today.
To donate call 01473 602602 or visit www.suffolkcf.org.uk. You can also donate at any branch of Ipswich Building Society.