Thirty years ago, my idea of poverty was that I can’t take a taxi. Until a friend of mine with much more sense than me – at the time, this is – pointed out that this is not poverty, this is being spoilt and so far removed from the world that I may as well be living in a Walt Disney movie. I took a note! I know, feel ashamed now.
Knowing something intellectually is only part of the story though. The next stage of awakening happened when I bought my first car; it was Fiat 125p and it was a ‘learning’ car. It had to be old and difficult to drive, the hand break never worked well and doing hill start in it was a nightmare. But the lady we bought it from quite obviously didn’t have much money – her house was tiny, it was sparsely furnished, and the children were asleep on the floor (in the one room downstairs) with the dog and the cat. No, I had not seen this kind of thing before but what really struck me was that everyone was happy!
After that I saw the slums of Johannesburg and Mexico City; now this was something else but it is not the point here.
What I want to tell you is that thirty years ago I wouldn’t have believed that people are getting poorly and dying because they can’t afford to heat their houses. Today I know this for a fact – people perish from hypothermia every winter. Mainly elderly people but not only.
This is not their fault and the measure of a civilised society is whether and how well it looks after its vulnerable members.
This is why I find it to be great news that today the Home Heat Helpline was launched in the UK: its aim is to inform people are entitled to help with their fuel bills about different options that are available and connect them with these.
Did you know that:
- 1 in 10 UK households are entitled to help with their fuel bills but many people don’t realise what support is available
- This breaks down as 2,989,000 English households (14% of households), 295,000 Scottish households (13% of households), and 244,000 Welsh households (19% of households)
- 5 of the top 10 most eligible local authorities are in Wales with around 1 in 4 households eligible in some areas.
- Help available is worth an average of £160 and includes grants for insulation, new boilers, discount and rebate schemes
- People can call the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99 and speak to one of the friendly advisors who will provide advice on reducing energy bills.
- People can also access the service online by visiting www.homeheathelpline.org.uk where a new Energy Checker will help to show if you are entitled to help.
Please, please phone the Home Heat Helpline or get on their website. And the main thing:
Do keep warm this winter!