Lived experiences of
Gerrard is disabled, unemployed and lives with his partner, who earns less than £20,000 a year. He lost his job during the pandemic and they are both already struggling with paying their bills.
“We can live, but it’s just existing. The bills seem insurmountable.
“I just got a demand today for another £850 and I haven’t a clue where they think I’m going to get that money from.
“Looking into winter is even worse and I just don’t know where people are going to find this.
“You either heat or you eat, and I can see me not heating the house until my wife or grandchild comes home.”
Sarah* is a single mother.
“My child’s got autism and it’s hard saying to him that we haven’t got the money – I’ve never had to say that to him before. He likes his PlayStation and he hasn’t been playing on it as much because he’s worried he’s using too much electricity.
“We don’t use the cooker or the toaster because they use too much energy. We mainly use the microwave. We’re cutting down on washing and not washing as much as we used to. I’m permanently watching what I’m doing and what I’m using, which we never had to do before.
“We aren’t using the heating at all. It’s all onesies and quilts. We just can’t afford to have the heating on.”
Marvin is 40 years old and lives alone in Manchester. He has reduced movement because of degenerative arthritis and is currently unemployed.
“Over the winter I live in one room just to try and keep warm. If I were to put all the storage heaters on in the other room to try and keep constantly warm all day long, it just wouldn’t be viable.
“I’m just not feeling confident about the future anyway because obviously, it’s going to get even harder, isn’t it? The future’s actually quite bleak at present.”
Jeanette is a 52-year-old part-time admin assistant who lives with her husband, son and daughter aged 20 and 21 in Sheffield. She makes sure the heating is no higher than 15C to make the family’s money last. They have a gas and electric prepayment meter.
“We do have arguments about it being too cold, but it’s the only way. Otherwise, I just work just to pay the bills.
“I’m taking on a second job to cover the additional costs, as I want to spare my children from shouldering the rise in prices. They’re already paying board.
“I’m anxious because if the bills are already just about manageable, what on earth will happen when they grow even higher in the coming months?”
* names of lived experience case studies have been changed
How National Energy Action makes a difference
National Energy Action has several multi-lingual information leaflets offering advice on how to maximise income and reduce energy consumption in a safe way.
Available in England and Wales, National Energy Action’s Warm and Safe Home (WASH) helpline is a free support service providing advice to householders in England and Wales on their energy bills and keeping warm and safe in their home. We can also help with benefits advice and income maximisation.
Lived experiences of people we’ve helped
“The shock bill threw me over the edge actually. I just went berserk. I just lost it completely. [The support] has helped enormously. I don’t know what I would’ve done, to be quite honest with you. Because there was no way I could’ve found £1,495…I am more than happy and I’m glad I found her [NEA advisor].”
“What you have done here for me, it’s been fantastic. It’s the best thing I ever got done, because if I hadn’t got it done, I’d be sitting here freezing now. I’d have no money in the bank, and I would probably owe [my energy supplier] a fortune. You’ve been fantastic. It’s made my life a whole lot better.”
“My husband is in a nursing home and [your support] helped to make a few more visits to see him”.
“I am now able and confident to keep my home warmer, this had made a tremendous difference to my life and personal mental well-being as I am now receiving chemo every 3 weeks for stage 4 cancer and after chemo I feel the cold so much more. I cannot thank you enough for all your help and support, god bless you all.”
“I used to stick with the 50p pizzas but now I can splash out and get the nice stuff and the kids can have juice and pop sometimes and they’re able to have like, a snack after school, buy ice cream or something like that.”
“My advisor is brilliant. She’s really good. She explains it really well. She takes the time so she actually listens to what you say rather than talking over the top of you. I think she’s fantastic.”
“If it weren’t for this service, my husband and I would have been cold, hungry and in arrears with our mortgage. I had no idea how to get any help or benefits, thank you very, very much for all your help and support.”
If you have received government support like the rebate and don’t need it to stay warm and safe then please consider donating some or all of it.