Warm and Well in North Yorkshire has seen a significant spike across the County in people struggling to pay bills or in a ‘Heat or Eat’ situation since the COVID19 Pandemic struck
There has been a huge increase in people contacting the helpline, who have been left with no heating at all often in Rural areas of the region that rely on oil heating or that are not connected to the gas mains.
Worryingly, there has also been an increase in calls and referrals from vulnerable people such as the elderly, people with mental health problems, disabilities and physical health problems who have been told to self-isolate and do not have the support structure they perhaps had before the pandemic.
The Warm and Well team are now working tirelessly to follow up often complex enquiries with the help of their partner organisations which include Citizens Advice, Age UK and the many local COVID19 assistance groups which have formed across the region. Warm and Well is supported financially by Yorkshire County Council to ensure people have and can afford to heat their homes.
Warm and Well’s new Project Coordinator Julia Priestnall commented “Our service demand has gone through the roof since the lock down was introduced. We are seeing a huge increase in calls and enquiries and I am extremely proud of our staff and Volunteers who have worked flat out in often difficult conditions to keep our services running from their homes.
Some of the enquiries have been heartbreaking. For instance, we have had a lady today who lost her husband last week and is now displaying symptoms herself who has no idea how she is going to pay her Energy Bills this month. We are working closely with our partners to support her through the most difficult of times and make sure she gets everything she needs. Our service has evolved during these unprecedented times and we have seen some great community spirit! For example, we had a local Coal merchant who went out of his way to deliver coal to a family with no means of heating their home in Wensleydale on Good Friday for us. We also managed to get a full tank of oil for a family that had no money due to the Pandemic. An elderly gentleman who I was calling to check on his welfare every week is now calling me to check me and my staff are OK.”
Julia continued “We want the people of North Yorkshire to know, we are here for them during these unparalleled times. If you are worried about a family members, friends or neighbour’s well being and they live in a cold or damp home or may be suffering from fuel poverty you can refer them yourself by calling our helpline on 01609 767 555 or by filling in our online referral form at https://www.warmandwell.org.uk/ . Our Specialist Energy Advisers will call the person or a family member back as soon as they can.”
“We have also launched our first #YorkshireEnergySavingsMonth or #YESM20 on Social Media which you can follow on Facebook and Twitter for lots of Energy Savings tips throughout May in response to the current crisis . Citizens Advice recently reported that a massive 6 million people have now fallen behind with household bills so we recommend that people contact us as soon as possible so we can support them through these difficult times.”