Developer makes £150,000 donation to keep the region warm this winter

Heat or eat is the unpalatable decision facing many households in our region this winter. In East Anglia statistics show that more than 700 people in Suffolk alone die each year because of poor living conditions and a lack of heating. In light of this, award-winning developer Hopkins Homes has announced a major donation of £150,000 to establish the Hopkins Winter Crisis Fund.

The new fund is in addition to the £500,000 Hopkins Charitable Fund which was launched last year and will seek to alleviate some of the pressures on households across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire as they struggle to keep warm this winter.

East Anglia has some of the highest levels of fuel poverty in the UK - defined as a household that has higher than typical energy costs which would be left with a disposable income below the poverty line if it spent the money required to meet those costs.

Joshua Hopkins of the Hopkins Charitable Fund said: “During our work with the community foundations for the Hopkins Charitable Fund it became apparent that there is a major crisis looming this winter.

“It’s estimated that over 40,000 households in Suffolk are living in fuel poverty. Last winter was a particularly harsh one weather-wise and we could be in for the same again this year. This, in combination with several factors such as the uncertainty around the roll out of universal credit, rising fuel prices, stagnant wages and higher living costs, could result in even more vulnerable people suffering this year.

“The aim of the Hopkins Charitable Fund has always been to support some of the most disadvantaged sections in our communities but fuel poverty affects many of these groups and households and delivering specific support with fuel bills can be challenging. As a result, I am very proud that Hopkins Homes has decided to establish the Hopkins Winter Crisis Fund, the £150,000 fund will be for the explicit provision of assistance with fuel bills and other energy saving measures.”

The fund will be distributed across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Details are being finalised but it has been announced that in Suffolk, £20,000 of small grants will be delivered through FIND (Ipswich Foodbank), REACH (Haverhill Foodbank) and Access Community Trust as fuel vouchers or direct support with payment of fuel bills. The level of support will be dependent on individual circumstances to ensure those most in need can both heat and eat this winter.

Joshua continues: “The small grants for fuel vouchers and support with bills are one way we feel we can make a huge difference to the difficulties facing many vulnerable individuals in our region this winter. Already we have heard that some of the grant fund has been used to purchase heating oil for a family who have not had any since the summer.

“We are working with the community foundations in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to finalise the details of how the remaining funds will be distributed and how individuals can apply for or be offered assistance, and we hope to make further announcements soon.”

Tim Holder, Head of Public Affairs at Suffolk Community Foundation said: “We are delighted that Hopkins Homes has taken this important step in the fight against fuel poverty in our region. We are expecting this winter to be a particularly difficult one for many households so this generous donation will make a huge difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our county.

We will be working with Hopkins Homes over the next few weeks to finalise the details to ensure that this donation helps as many people as possible this coming winter.”

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