NEIGHBOURS in Bury can become heroes and lifesavers by making an online pledge to keep an eye on vulnerable residents during cold weather.

The head of Age UK Bury has also backed the Winter Friends campaign after revealing freezing conditions have caused the deaths of scores of elderly people in the borough in previous winters.

Health bosses are encouraging residents to sign an online pledge at As part of the scheme, those who sign up will receive free cold-weather alerts and email tips on how to keep out the cold.

They will be encouraged to call in on neighbours, and check: the heat in their home; whether they are receiving winter fuel payments; and that they are eating well and stocked up on food in case they are unable to leave the house during extreme weather.

Celebrities who have signed up to the campaign include actress Joanna Lumley and actor Stephen Fry.

The chief officer of Age UK Bury, Andy Hazeldine, said: “In 2010, 118 people in Bury died because of the cold and figures show there are 11,000 people aged over 65 living alone in the borough and this figure is expected to rise to 16,000 by 2030.

“This initiative is to be welcomed. It literally could be the difference between life or death and there is a chance here for neighbours to become heroes.”

He added: “Anything that supports people’s desire to live independently in their own home can only be a good thing and this scheme promotes the concept of community and knowing your neighbour, something that society has perhaps lost a little in recent times.”

An NHS spokesman said: “Each winter thousands of people in England die as a result of cold weather. Most are over 75 and most of these deaths could be avoided.

“Hundreds of thousands of others spend much of the winter alone and lonely.

“The campaign seeks to help by appealing to an old-fashioned sense of neighbourliness.”

Age UK Bury can be called on 0161 763 9030.