WCF, a Cumbrian-based business, is pledging its support for a sixth consecutive year to a charity fighting fuel poverty.

Since 2018, they have donated over £50,000 to the Winter Warmth Appeal, run by Cumbria Community Foundation.

This appeal assists vulnerable older people in Cumbria who are in danger during the chilly winter months because they lack the funds to heat their homes.

The business, which is part employee-owned and operates throughout the UK, is endorsing the appeal as part of its ethic to give back to local communities.

They support various worthy causes across Cumbria and the rest of Britain, including animal rescue charities, the Air Ambulance, Wildlife Trusts, and youth organisations.

Managing Director of WCF, Jo Ritzema, said: "We put our team and the rural communities in which they live and work at the heart of our business, and take their lead to provide long-standing support to the charities and organisations which are important to them, as well as supporting their own fund-raising activities in any way we can, such as doubling any money they raise for charity.

“With the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and rising energy bills, it’s never been more important to support those who cannot afford to heat their homes this winter and are at risk as a result.

"I would urge anyone who is able to get behind the Winter Warmth campaign and make a real difference to people’s lives in Cumbria.”

News and Star: Jo Ritzema, Managing Director of WCFJo Ritzema, Managing Director of WCF (Image: WCF)

Last year, the Winter Warmth Appeal raised a record-breaking £661,908, allowing the fund to offer 2,413 grants benefiting more than 3,223 people.

Jenny Benson, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at Cumbria Community Foundation, said: "It’s well known that colder weather exacerbates respiratory and circulatory diseases.

"Many local older people are at risk and even die because of the combined effects of fuel poverty and social isolation.

"We are being told by our delivery partners at Age UK just how desperate a situation it is for people who are being forced to choose whether they eat or heat their homes.

"All districts in Cumbria have a higher proportion of households living in fuel poverty than the national average, with over 33,000 households suffering. Sadly, it is our older population that is more at risk."

Last year, WCF, as a Winter Warmth Match Fund Champion, doubled its donation to £15,000 and has pledged the same amount this year.

Bringing the total donated by the firm to £52,000 since 2018.

The Brampton-headquartered company operate a national mail-order business, eight WCF Pet & Equestrian retail stores, an e-commerce business, three camping and glamping sites, and an oil distribution business.

Ms Ritzema: "As one of Cumbria’s largest oil distributors, we understand the isolation of rural communities, especially during the winter months, which is why we make our most vulnerable customers a priority for heating oil deliveries during cold weather conditions."

Customers age 75 and over can sign up for the free Cold Weather Priority scheme which allows heating oil distributors to identify and prioritise those most at risk.

Donations can be made to the Winter Warmth Appeal at www.cumbriafoundation.org.