Black balloons mark deaths

Pensioners from South Yorkshire have released 50 black balloons to honour those who die from cold exposure every winter in the UK.

Thursday, 1st December 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 2:41 pm
Barnsley Retirees Action Group

The balloons were released by Barnsley Retirees Action Group in Barnsley town centre last week, ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Two years ago, the number of excess winter deaths was revealed to be 43,900. This year’s statement revealed the 2015/16 figure was 24,300.

George Arthur, secretary of Barnsley Retirees Action Group, said: “It is appalling that so many old people die of cold every winter in one of the richest countries in the world.

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“Each black balloon we released represents 1,000 people who died last winter due to cold and a lack of resources.

“Pensioners across the country released black balloons on this day to show that we will not forget those who died in this way.

“We are being told that pensioners are benefiting at the expense of the younger generation. The reality is that the poor of whatever age are suffering from governments that only look after the rich.”

BRAG also passed out leaflets providing information on the steps that elderly people can take to safeguard themselves this winter.

The World Health Organisation estimates that at least one third of excess winter deaths are caused by living in cold homes and fuel poverty. This means that, last year, over 7,000 people are likely to have died prematurely due to cold homes in England and Wales.