The Community Foundation Wakefield District is launching a new campaign to help cut fuel poverty across the district.
Currently, everyone who receives a state pension automatically gets a winter fuel payment regardless of whether they need it or not.
The charity is asking those who are more well off to donate the money to its new Winter Fuel Payment Fund, which will be used to provide emergency fuel payments to locals in desperate need.
The aim is to raise £5,000 to kickstart the fund in time for the coming colder months.
Once the target is reached, the charity will be working with partner agencies to identify the people most in need.
The money will be given out in the form of pre-payment meter cards or tokens to ensure it is only used on gas and electricity bills.
Foundation administrator John Major said: “According to energy company statistics there are at least 30,000 people in the district on pre-payment meters - they pay on average £400 more than the rest of us and they are the ones that can least afford the costs. We are establishing our Winter Fuel Payment Fund and are asking for people who receive a state pension - which automatically triggers a Winter Fuel payment, usually paid in November or December - to donate all or part of this to the fund.”
It was estimated in 2010 that 26,331 (18.5 per cent) people were living in fuel poverty in Wakefield. An increase in hospital admissions and illnesses - including heart attacks, strokes and respiratory viruses - also puts strain on the NHS services, while fuel poverty contributes to one in 20 of all deaths every year. In 2010-11, around 210 people died in the Wakefield district due to winter-related causes.
This equates to an excess winter mortality index of 20.8 per cent, which is above the West Yorkshire-wide figure of 17 per cent.
To contribute, visit www.wakefieldCF.org.uk and click on the link donate now or send a cheque stipulating “Winter Fuel Payment Fund” to Community Foundation Wakefield District, PO Box 696, 19 King Street, Wakefield, WF1 9NW.