With many of our families being thrown into a position of eating or heating last winter, we quickly established three targeted support projects with a pot of £80,000. Our parents are full time carers to their children and require 2-1 care due to their complex needs, leaving parents unable to work and relying on income support, which is currently not allowing for increases in energy, food, and fuel. Our families will be receiving a £300 winter payment from the government however this only equates to an extra £50 a month to manage the rise in energy, petrol and fuel costs.
· Energy Costs
We have had to provide additional practical and emotional support in response to being inundated with requests from our families suﬀering with extreme stress and anxiety from the increased cost of living. The vast majority of our families require the use of large amounts of energy to be able to heat their homes for children with temperature control conditions, to continuously power vents and breathing apparatus for their children with respiratory conditions, along with charging wheelchairs, hoists, lifts and other equipment. Many of our children are incontinent and bedding, towels and clothing need to be constantly washed and dried. With an average cost of £350 per month to provide gas and electric to these households our families are in crisis. Our fuel grants are paid direct into the energy accounts of the families, allowing families to heat their homes during the coldest of weather and budget. All applications are means tested to ensure energy grants reach families that are struggling the most.
· Food Vouchers
We provided families with food vouchers at Christmas to ensure families had enough food to see them over the festive period. Many families expressed it’s a choice between skipping meals or running gas and electric. We ensured that food on the table at Christmas was one less worry for our families, and we predict food poverty to be extremely high among our families from this autumn and are already aware family members are skipping meals and using foodbanks where available. Food Vouchers are provided in denominations of £100.
· Winter Warmer Packs.
Each Winter many of our children are hospitalised due to hypothermia, pneumonia, respiratory disease and covid, fuel poverty is only adding to the risks of the safety of our children’s health. We plan to deploy as many winter warmer packs this winter as funding allows. Each pack will consist of a penguin fleece blanket, an oddie wearable blanket, a pair of warmies soft boots and a warmies penguin handwarmer . Each pack costs £140, and we have many hundreds of children that will hugely benefit from these lifesaving packs.
We now support over 1,000 families that we consider to be some of the most clinically vulnerable children and poverty-stricken families in the UK, who are subsequently being pushed well below the poverty line due to these increased costs.
We need to urgently attempt to build a pot of £100,000 for the next six months to enable us to repeat last autumn/winters services and keep our children warm, safe and reduce disabled child poverty.