Two weekly newspapers have launched a joint campaign to raise £50,000 to help elderly people across the area survive the winter.
The Essex Chronicle and Brentwood Gazette have started their Surviving Winter appeal in partnership with the Essex Community Foundation, which aims to help ensure that older and at-risk residents can pay their gas bills and have a hot meal.
The campaign was first run by the Chronicle last year, with it raising £35,000 through donations from readers to help the elderly get through the cold winter months.
And the Gazette decided to come on board with the appeal this year after receiving figures from Essex County Council stating the borough of Brentwood had the highest rate of winter deaths in the county.
The two papers hope to raise around £50,000 with this year’s campaign, which will be distributed to local organisations that help keep the elderly warm or given to individuals in need, while they are also encouraging readers to look out for older neighbours.
Essex Chronicle editor Paul Dent-Jones said: “As the paper is an important part of the Essex community we’re always keen to find ways where we can get actively involved and make a difference in our community.
“The Surviving Winter Appeal is a fantastic example of the difference local journalism can make and in the inaugural year of the appeal which wasn’t supported by the paper only £2,000 was raised.
“We’re delighted to be supporting the appeal again this year and look forward to hopefully reaching our £50,000 target.”
This year’s appeal is also being run in partnership with Age UK Essex and the British Red Cross.
Brentwood Gazette editor Nev Wilson, who is also senior editor of the Essex Chronicle Media Group, said: “It was really concerning to us to learn that Brentwood had the highest rate of winter deaths in the county and we really wanted to do something to highlight this issue.
“We’re delighted to be supporting the Surviving Winter Appeal and really hope our readers will join in and help support those that need a little extra help during the colder months.
“As well as launching the appeal in our paper, we’re also encouraging our readers to look out for their elderly neighbours.
“Winter can be such an isolating time for many and it would be fantastic if through our appeal we were not only able to help those suffering but also bring our communities closer together.”