Thursday, January 22, 2009

Iceland Helps Keep UK Pensioners Warm

Incredible, but true. From the National Pensioners Convention website:

Icelanders offer help to UK's fuel poor pensioners -

Icelandic Wool to England Project

A container filled with jumpers, socks and blankets - destined for Britain's fuel poor pensioners - will arrive at Grimsby on 26 January, following an appeal from listeners to a popular morning radio programme in Iceland, called Bitid.

The charitable appeal - called 'Icelandic Wool to England' (Islensk Ull til Englands) - started after the programme's hosts, Heimir Karlsson and Kolbrun Bjornsdottir, covered a story featuring Britain's National Pensioners Convention (NPC), and their warning that up to 1 in 12 pensioners may die this winter due to the drop in temperature.

Mr Karlsson interviewed an Icelander, Njall Hardarson, now living in Manchester, who explained the problems faced by many older people in Britain. The response from listeners prompted the idea of collecting garments made from unique Icelandic wool and shipping them to pensioners who are struggling to pay their fuel bills and keep warm in the current cold spell. A large freight company, Samskip, offered to ship the garments over and other businesses offered bags and boxes for packing.

The Icelandic organisers hope to formally hand over the garments at the end of next week to a charity of welfare organisation in the city of Hull (twinned with Reykjavik) to distribute to local pensioners.

NPC spokesperson, Neil Duncan-Jordan said: "This is a fantastic and generous act of compassion from the people of Iceland, particularly at a time when their own economic situation is extremely difficult. But it is also a shocking indictment of the UK government's complete inability to properly tackle the problem of winter deaths amongst older people.”

“In the last decade we have lost 260,000 pensioners during the winter months and the response from Whitehall has been a deafening silence. We hope this act of kindness will shame the government into raising the state pension and the winter fuel allowance so that pensioners have the confidence to turn on the heating when they need it without the fear of what it might cost."

Icelandic broadcaster, Heimir Karlsson, who helped organise the appeal said: "When we broadcast the story that UK pensioners were dying from the cold, our listeners could not believe their own ears. We decided to give the Icelandic nation four days to fill a 20ft container of pure Icelandic wool for the pensioners in Britain. Families, some from far away, came one after another with garments to fill the container. Some of the sweaters were brand new. One 9 year old girl gathered 37 beautiful sweaters and delivered it to us at the radio station."

"I am sure I speak on behalf of every living soul in Iceland when I say that we looked at it with an utter dismay and total disbelief, how badly the government of the United Kingdom treats its old people. The elderly deserve to live their last years enjoying the best of care. They deserve to live in warm housing, free from worries over cold and rising gas bills. The Icelandic people heard about how terribly the UK government treats the pensioners, and could not just do nothing about it!"


  • The Icelandic radio station which broadcasts the Bitid programme is called Bylgjan
  • The container will arrive on 26 January at the port at Immingham, Grimsby, Lincs


  • 25,300 older people in England and Wales died of cold related illnesses between December 2007 and March 2008. This represents a seven per cent increase on last year’s figure of 23,740.
  • Nearly 90 per cent of all excess winter deaths are of people over the age of 65.
  • Almost one in three older people live in homes with inadequate heating or insulation making their homes more difficult to heat and/or keep warm.
  • One in three pensioner households are classed as living in fuel poverty.
  • Average annual energy bills now exceed £1,000. This will absorb 16 per cent of the income of a single pensioner dependent on the pension credit minimum guarantee and the current £250 Winter Fuel Payment.
  • When the winter fuel allowance was first introduced, it covered about a third of the average energy bill. Now it covers less than a fifth.

See also here and here.


Anonymous said...

It makes you ashamed to be British after the way we treated the Icelanders over the banking crisis.


Anonymous said...

Dont be ashamed.......just let your PM know that he can kicik us again whenever he wants......we always stand up again. Take care of your olders.

Anonymous said...

Fuel poverty? Who gives a...? Labour have got far better things to do for their own nests.

"Thanks Suckers"

"Oh Lord! Not again!"