At (CABA), we’ve assisted many clients who have struggled to pay their energy bills. In 2014 alone, we made winter fuel payments to 120 clients totalling £25,200. Yet if we were to ask our clients if they were in fuel poverty, they would say that they’re not and are making do just fine thank you very much.
We’re increasingly seeing clients who are doing their best to make do and soldier on. One client recently told me that he pulls on two jumpers and an extra pair of socks and tries not to think about the bill which will be dropping onto the mat. Another client, on a low income, scraped together what few pennies he could to overpay his estimated bill, after having been clobbered with nasty surprises from the energy company in the past.
Sadly it’s often the most vulnerable members of society who are suffering in silence. We are frequently finding that older people, people with disabilities and families with young children are the ones most reluctant to ask for help. We want to break down barriers so that those who need it most don’t feel embarrassed in seeking support.
The story of one of our clients,Tim, perfectly illustrates the reluctance people may have to access support from charities when struggling to heat their homes. Tim’s wife was returning home from an extended stay in hospital when the central heating broke down and the family was handed a large bill which they couldn’t afford. After having been turned down for credit, Tim wasn’t sure where to turn before he hesitantly contacted CABA. Within three days, we were able to make a donation to Tim and his family to ensure the work needed could be completed.
With the costs of heating a home having risen markedly over the past five years, it’s no surprise that people from all walks of life are finding themselves in fuel poverty. If there is one message I would like readers to take away from this blog, it’s that there’s no shame in asking for help with energy bills from one of the many organisations that are ready, willing and able to assist. Nobody should have to spend the winter shivering in a cold home.