Retirees who hope to fuel our future

By Jessica Elgot, December 1, 2011
Fuel Our Youth will fund young participants in the Prince’s Trust, such as these students on a course in Glasgow

Fuel Our Youth will fund young participants in the Prince’s Trust, such as these students on a course in Glasgow

Concern for his grandchildren's generation motivated retired solicitor Howard Zetter to use his winter fuel allowance payment - and those of others - to do something positive for disadvantaged young people.

After retiring in April, the 65-year-old Edgware Masorti member set up the Fuel Our Youth charity to encourage over-60s who can manage without their government winter heating assistance to donate the cash.

"I don't really need the money and I thought: 'There must be many people out there in the same position.' Can this money be used for a better purpose? I was interested in the plight of young people. It snowballed from there."

He recruited the help of friends Tony Hames and Alan Kaufman to establish the fund, which supports the Prince's Trust and Kids Company. "Richard Branson has said he believes there is going to be a lost generation. That is what is really driving us."

Mr Zetter has found "great enthusiasm" for the idea of handing over the winter fuel payment - couples over 60 receive £100 per person, individuals get £200, rising to £300 for over 80s. Celebrities including newsreader Angela Rippon and actor Robert Powell have pledged their backing.

Tony Hames, Howard Zetter and Alan Kaufman

Tony Hames, Howard Zetter and Alan Kaufman

Added Mr Kaufman, a family lawyer who also attends Edgware Masorti: "Our real concern is about our own grandchildren and the world in which they are growing up."

Mr Hames, 64, a retired finance director, stressed they were only targeting senior citizens who could comfortably afford to pay their fuel bills. "But for some people, the extra money just goes into their cigar or claret fund. There are a lot of kids who need enormous support, and they are the future tax-paying generation."

Mr Zetter felt it was "a wonderful thing for our generation to do. The perception both generations have of each other is not as it should be. We hope this helps to balance it.

"We were looking at supporting projects ourselves but it was too big a task. We wanted to go to people who knew what they were doing. The Prince's Trust were bowled over by the idea and very, very supportive. We went to have a look at Kids Company [helping vulnerable children] and were very taken with what we saw. We want other charities to contact us and we have been flooded with applications and projects."

Kids Company fundraising head Neil Lovell said: "We need schemes like this to look at more creative ways of finding funding. So many other funding schemes are drying up."

Last updated: 12:50pm, December 1 2011