Heat or Eat?

It’s not nice being cold or watching those you love feeling cold. Worse is experiencing that for a long period of time and knowing that the solution to your discomfort sits tantalisingly close. The radiators are there but you know if you put them on you’ll be confronted with a bill you can’t pay some time down the line.

Heat, comfort and home are so closely bound. We talk about the warmth of the family home and we imagine a glow which is physical as well as metaphorical. Sometimes though, that warmth is depressingly elusive. I think of rented accommodation I’ve lived in that had no insulation in the loft; poor windows without double-glazing; paper-thin walls; and front and back doors with gaping holes underneath them. Houses which try as I might I could never keep adequately warm but in the attempt managed to run up enormous gas and electricity bills. As fast as we heated those places, the warmth escaped from us. Turn the heating down a notch or two and very shortly you were back to square one. Turn the heating off completely and without the temperature inside the house being consistently warm, there was the potential for condensation to take hold, mould develop and a whole host of associated problems result.

Thankfully I’ve never had to choose between keeping my children warm and feeding them but there are some 2.2 million children living in fuel poverty in the UK this winter whose parents do face that decision. Creating the circumstances which allow a person with limited finances to heat their home to an adequate degree is what is behind the latest Turn2Us campaign: Cut Out The Cold. To ensure that no one is unable to keep themselves and their loved ones sufficiently warm in their homes, Turn2Us have put together information on available help in the UK along with tips on how to manage heating more efficiently. The Children’s Society are also campaigning to ensure that all families living in poverty automatically receive the Warm Homes Discount as pensioners do, rather than this being left at the discretion of a particular energy provider.

Children should not have to live in cold homes and families should not be forced to make heart-wrenching decisions on whether to heat or eat. We must care enough to change this.

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