Two organisations are offering advice and support for farmers who may be feeling the cold this winter.

The UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) is urging more oil heated households in the farming community aged 75 and over to sign up to its Cold Weather Priority scheme this winter, in a bid to help prevent excess winter deaths.

Meanwhile, the The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT) is urging anyone in, or who has been in, a gamekeeping profession who may be concerned about coping with fuel costs to get in touch.

Originally launched in 2017, the Cold Weather Priority scheme is industry-led.

“This scheme is effective and works because it enables our UKIFDA Member suppliers to identify the most vulnerable individuals so they can then prioritise heating oil deliveries to them when needed,” explained Ken Cronin, chief executive.

“Now in its fifth year, the Cold Weather Priority scheme has enabled elderly consumers, who heat their homes using heating oil, to sign up for prioritised deliveries when there are supply shortages or extreme weather.

“We want more heating oil consumers in the farming community who are aged 75 and over to sign up to the scheme to ensure they stay warm throughout winter.”

When there are excess winter deaths, the victims are often in their mid-70s or older.

Ken said: “Warm homes are vital in the fight against excess winter deaths as elderly people are most at risk from a cold home. Without sufficient heat, a cold home can cause blood pressure issues, damage immune systems, and lead to respiratory illnesses.

“The scheme is free and consumers only need to speak to their local UKIFDA fuel distributor about joining and they will help them. By signing up now, you will become part of the scheme before winter hits – meaning your fuel deliveries will be prioritised whenever needed this winter.”

The GWT is also tackling the issue of staying warm this winter.

Country properties may look biscuit-tin perfect but the reality is sometimes very different.

Drafts, poor insulation and climbing fuel costs may be just some of the challenges rural dwellers are getting ready to grapple with this winter.

Helen MJ Benson, GWT chief executive officer, said: "Rural dwellers, and especially those living on tight budgets for whatever reason, may feel the pinch of more than just the cold this winter.

"We’re encouraging all those who qualify for our support to contact us so we can talk about how we can keep them warm this winter.

"That’s people who are, or have spent significant time in their career as, gamekeepers, stalkers and ghillies. They might have moved on to another role, or be long-retired.

"We also work with the dependants of people in those roles, for example wives whose husbands may no longer be with us."

The Resources section of the GWT’s website has a range of free guidance together with a fact sheet on keeping warm with tips on available grants, where to look for help and more.

The message as the weather changes is simple: if you’re worried about keeping warm this winter, contact the GWT to talk about how they can help, with contact details available at

To find out more about UKIFDA’s Cold Weather Priority scheme, visit