In the week that Somerset Community Foundation announced that more than £50,000 has already been donated in just four weeks, Saga, the Surviving Winter Campaign's national partner revealed the extent of the hardship facing older people this winter.
The funds raised have already been committed to local organisations helping older and vulnerable people struggling as the cold weather bites, but more is needed to meet the demand.
With the help of an additional contribution from the Somerset County Council, emergency funds have also been given to almost 200 households affected by the recent floods.
Sonia Pike, manager at Mendip Citizens Advice Bureau said: "At a time when fuel prices are rising many elderly people are making the difficult decision between heating and food. In our area many live in hard to heat homes and are reliant on inefficient heating methods with no access to cheaper types of fuel. One person whose home is run on oil fired central heating must make a minimum purchase of the fuel and these upfront costs are a significant burden."
Saga has revealed new figures from a Populus survey of 8,500 older people that show how the cold weather affects them:
58 per cent are worrying about the cost of heating over this winter;
35 per cent are already struggling to pay their heating bills;
25 per cent have had to cut their spending to afford their heating;
11 per cent will stop using parts of their house all together;
7 per cent said they will stay in bed longer to keep fuel bills low.
Justin Sargent, chief executive of Somerset Community Foundation said: "This week's figures from Saga paint a tragic picture of older people staying in bed and turning the heating down just when they should be turning it up.
"There are 25,500 people of retirement age in Mendip and these figures show how difficult winter will be for many, in some cases with very tragic consequences. If just 1 per cent of the better off winter fuel payment recipients in the Mendip area alone donated, we could raise £40,000."