Winter, York and fuel poverty

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January at the Besom often involves lots of tidying up from Christmas, catching up on emails and having the heating on all day! This year in particular I’ve been struck by how much we take having a heater in the office for granted.

Over December and January we have had a record number of referrals for help with people’s heating and electricity bills. Nearly every other referral has been for people who are struggling with fuel poverty. Families in York, and across the country, who are living on extremely little are having to make impossible choices such as choosing to heat the house or eat.

When I was a student, we would put an extra layer on, wear slippers or go and work in the library instead of putting the heating on. In reality, it wasn’t much of a hardship. We always had the option of going elsewhere and we could afford to put the heating on for a couple of hours a day in winter if need be.

The families and individuals that have been referred to us don’t have such options. One family referred to us this week were deemed as being in a life-threatening situation because they couldn’t afford anything to put on their meter. The meter system is an injustice in itself. It’s actually cheaper to pay monthly but people living in poverty don’t have the option or the means to switch.

But there is hope. We have been really blessed to receive money gifts that have helped us put money on people’s meters for them. We have also received cheques from those who receive a winter fuel allowance from the government and want to give it to people who cannot afford to heat their homes.

Please join us in praying for those who are in the midst of fuel poverty this winter.

Becky Lewis, Co-ordinator, The Besom in York

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