Thanks to the incredible generosity of local people giving more than £41,000 to our Warmer Winter appeal, we’ve so far been able to provide more than 500 emergency fuel vouchers to local people referred in hardship to our food bank, in partnership with Thinking Works (a local not-for-profit organisation).
These £49 fuel vouchers have meant that people and families across Wandsworth could top up their prepayment meters, ensuring they could cook the food we provide, have hot water and light, and put the heating on on the coldest days this winter.
The relief has been palpable. We’ve given emergency fuel vouchers to people in their 70s whose income from Pension Credit wasn’t enough to keep the heating on; to people having treatment for cancer who needed to keep warm; and to families so they could keep the lights on and cook a meal for their children when they’ve come home from school. For several people with diabetes, it’s made the difference between being able to keep their fridge on to safely store insulin, and not.
Even though the weather is getting warmer, the cost of living pressures on local people on low incomes isn’t easing – in fact we’re seeing the same level of need for our help as we saw during the worst year of the pandemic. So we’ll continue to provide emergency fuel vouchers for as long as we can, and hope to be able to re-open our Warmer Winter appeal again in the autumn.
We’ve also been able to give out hot water bottles and blankets that people have donated, and which people have been delighted to receive – thank you.
We welcome the extra payments that many low income people and families will receive from the Government this year. However, research by Policy in Practice reveals that ‘…uprating benefits by inflation, increasing the National Living Wage and further cost of living payments still won’t be enough to stop thousands of low-income families from being worse off in April, as costs continue to outstrip income’.
That’s why we’re calling for the Government to ensure that the basic rate of Universal Credit (currently £85/week for one person) should at least cover the cost of essentials like food, household bills and travel costs. At the moment, it’s not set according to any objective assessment of what people need. That means there’s a significant shortfall between people’s living costs and their income, which is forcing many to skip meals, switch off essential appliances such as fridges, turn off their heating – and need to use our food bank to get by.
You can find out more, and add your voice to thousands calling for the Government to Guarantee our Essentials, here.