COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Campaigns kick off to assist the elderly over winter months

Two campaigns to help elderly people survive cold winters are poised to launch as new government figures show that last winter "excess deaths" rose by 2,460 to 27,300.

Many of the victims are believed to be vulnerable older people and the problem is described as a "national disgrace" by Gordon Lishman, the director-general at Age Concern.

The charity is to launch the Fight the Freeze appeal to raise money to help fund winter services for vulnerable pensioners.

Lishman said: "While we welcome the Government's initiative to fight fuel poverty among older people, many of them still cannot afford sufficient heating or they live in housing with inadequate insulation."

The Office of National Statistics figures for 2001/02 come as National Energy Action and British Gas launch their Warm Homes Week from 22 November to 2 December.

The campaign seeks publicity through 75 MPs, MEPs and assembly members visiting constituents' homes on fact-finding missions.

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