Trussell Trust says No Cold Homes
It sounds like something straight from the pages of a nineteenth-century novel; on asking some of his pupils why they cannot concentrate in class, the headmaster of a small village primary school in Devon discovers that they haven’t been able to sleep at night. The reason? Their rooms are too cold. Their parents cannot afford to put food on their plates and heat the house; something has to give.
But this isn’t the nineteenth century. And this isn’t a fiction. This was the reality of last winter for a group of young children in Devon; a reality which means that this year the local foodbank will be offering thick duvets and blankets alongside emergency food. And yet, it is not just in rural Devon that foodbanks are listening to the difficult choices people face when cold weather closes in. This is something Trussell Trust foodbanks right across the UK are hearing.
Toughest time of the year
"I had no money at all and couldn’t afford to put the gas on’"
Maria was referred to the foodbank after being left without income for six weeks, whilst she waited for the first pay cheque of her new job. And she’s not alone - cold weather means that winter is the toughest time of year for many people living on the breadline, as meagre incomes are stretched further to try and heat the home.
Referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks
In December last year, referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks were 53% higher than the average across other months, with over 130,000 three day food supplies provided to people in crisis in just one month. And with the last six months showing a slight increase in numbers helped compared to the same period last year, it is likely that there could be another rise in foodbank use this December.
Fuel banks project
But reeling off statistics is little help to someone who is standing at the gas meter, wondering how they will eek the remaining credit out as long as possible so they can buy some pasta for the kids’ tea tonight. That’s why The Trussell Trust is working with Npower to pilot ‘fuel banks’ which give prepayment meter top ups for people struggling afford energy as well as food. This will be the first winter that fuel banks have been operating, and we hope that next year there will be more fuel banks running alongside the foodbanks in our network, able to help people struggling to heat their homes. When Maria was referred to one of the foodbanks in the pilot, she was able to also access a referral to the fuel bank, providing her not only with food, but the fuel to cook it:
"The foodbank helped me with a food parcel and a fuel voucher also meant I could make sure I could top up my gas and electric… I was so grateful, the fuel bank voucher will certainly help people in a similar situation."
No Cold Homes
Charities like The Trussell Trust and Turn2us are doing all we can to help stop people going hungry or struggling to keep warm during winter. We’re big supporters of Turn2us’s 'No Cold Homes’ campaign, because our foodbanks see first hand, every day, how necessary it is. Please join us as we work together to ‘Cut out the Cold’ for the UK’s poorest families – thank you.
Find out more about the Trussell Trust