ACCLAIMED actress June Whitfield has joined the Daily Echo's campaign to make sure the county's most vulnerable residents are looked after properly this winter.

The star of BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous is the latest public figure to back our Winter Warmers campaign to raise awareness about the threat of fuel poverty in Hampshire.

In the south-east alone, 3,000 people will die over the cold period - and of those, 2,900 will be aged over 65.

However, these figures are not the result of disease or even old age, but because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

Mrs Whitfield, ambassador of the British Gas Help the Aged winter deaths campaign, said: "I welcome the Southern Daily Echo's Winter Warmers crusade as it is vital that older people are able to take control of their winter warmth by claiming benefits, accessing home heating schemes and following its guidelines on how to keep warm and well.

"It is important that the issue of fuel poverty that blights the lives of so many older people is kept in the public eye."

The Daily Echo launched the campaign in December last year after revealing the shocking statistics surrounding fuel poverty in the region.

A Department of Health study revealed that 4,017 of Southampton's 32,000 over-65s have no central heating in their homes.

For advice on energy efficiency and grants call the Solent Energy Efficiency Advice Centre on 0800 512 012.