WHAT STANDS BETWEEN A FAMILY AND FREEZING THIS WINTER?
"“Taking care of the poor in the winter and protecting them from the cold is a great deed.” [Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali] "
What stands between a family and freezing?
Text WARM90 £10 to 70070
0207 733 2104
Winter has arrived. As the days grow colder, the nights longer, temperatures dip dramatically, and we automatically reach for the thermostat. But those already vulnerable and suffering from financial hardship do not have this luxury; instead, the onset of winter fills them with dread. Anxiety surrounding the escalating costs of energy bills, how to afford appropriate clothing and dealing with longstanding health issues exacerbated by the cold, set in.
The families HHUGS support already live through considerable financial strain throughout the year. Winter only compounds the problems of poverty and lack of support. Many HHUGS families are amongst the 5.4 million in the UK experiencing “fuel poverty”, struggling to afford adequate heating, clothing or the measures to make their homes energy efficient.
The families we support include the elderly and children who are particularly vulnerable as they are the first to succumb to preventable illnesses. Extreme cold and long dark nights make it more difficult for people to leave their homes during these months, compounding the existing feeling of loneliness and isolation. Many “invisible” ailments such as depression and anxiety return with a vengeance during this season of extended darkness and merciless cold. It is during these days of worry and despair that families need a helping hand.
The Chilling Facts
• One person could die every seven minutes this winter. The number of excess winter deaths due to people living in cold homes surged last winter to 14,780, a 77% increase above the 5 year average. The cold weather death toll is expected to top 40,000 in 2015, the highest number for 15 years.
• 2.3 million households in England cannot afford to keep their homes warm this winter, even though 50% of those are in work.
• Two-fifths of people affected by fuel poverty have had to choose between heating and eating, forced to cut back on food or skip meals.
• Two-fifths of consumers said they left their oven door open after cooking and a quarter wore a coat, scarf or hat indoors to keep warm rather than turning on their heating. Over a third (36%) of older people in the UK say they live mainly in one room to save money.
• The 2.2 million children who form a third of the homes living in fuel poverty are twice as likely to be at risk of bronchitis and asthma and four times more at risk of developing multiple mental health problems. Cold housing also negatively affects how children perform at school and their emotional well-being.
• The cost of cold homes to the NHS in England is estimated to be around £1.36 billion per year
• Britain is second only to Estonia in Europe for the number of people who struggle to pay their energy bills.
Last winter, with your support,
• Sulaiman didn’t have to spend another night in his car but finally had a roof over his head
• Aunty Khadijah’s home was no longer stone cold as she was now able to afford to heat her home.
• Yusuf didn’t have to face the cold because the warm coat and decent shoes you provided protected him from the harsh season
Through the generous support of our donors, last winter, we were able to support over 100 families, providing 189 children with winter clothing and distributing over £21,000, additional to the regular support families received, to cover the costs of energy bills.
Together, we made a difference.
Each week HHUGS receives more applications for support from new families who have been impacted by anti-terror legislation.
Help us make a difference to them this winter.
A WARMER WINTER WITH HHUGS:
Heart-warming for you and life changing for them
This year, once again, you can alleviate the harsh effects of the weather this season and remove the anxiety around winter for those who cannot afford to protect themselves adequately against it.
“Taking care of the poor in the winter and protecting them from the cold is a great deed.” [Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali]
There are a number of ways you can help:
• Clothe a Child - £20
One in two families will be forced to cut back on clothing or food for their children to pay for heating for their homes.
"In Winter, they send us vouchers for clothing and sent us duvets to keep us warm. Allah knows the difference that HHUGS made to my life."
“Whoever clothes (a believer) will be clothed from the green silk of Paradise.” (at-Tirmidhi)
• Heat a Home
• £150 for Winter/£50 a month will support families struggling with bills
Heating a home during long winter nights can be a costly affair. 30% of families say they avoid heating rooms like the bedroom, bathroom or living room because they are worried about the cost and at least 30% of winter deaths are caused by cold homes. Contributing towards a gas and heating bill will provide great relief to a struggling family.
• £300 for Winter/£100 a month will enable low income families to survive
Our lowest income families find it difficult to manage essentials like rent, food and bills for the best part of the year, so when Winter hits, their struggle becomes even more acute, necessitating further intervention from HHUGS. Two-fifths of people affected by fuel poverty have been forced to cut back on food or skip meals.
“I have to remind myself, ‘stop eating now because you don’t have anything for tomorrow.”
• Shelter a Family - £500 for one month
Protect a family from the elements and ensure they have a roof over their heads this Winter by contributing to their rent.
"They helped me with rent payments, without which we would be homeless. They paid for food and winter clothing. I had so much debt when I contacted HHUGS but they helped me pay off my rent arrears, my water bill and my council tax arrears, which lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.”
How does Winter actually affect HHUGS families?
The house has been raided. The door, broken. The rooms, stone cold. Children are unwell. Heating bills are more than you can afford- a sparse fridge greets you every morning. You are already one of the forgotten ones- who wants to be associated with a family like yours? Isolated and with an arctic winter ahead, dread stirs up within you.
Imagine being a single woman who has a smashed door you cannot afford to repair, lack of basic groceries, children with few clothes appropriate for the cold and an intense level of social isolation –
Winter hits HHUGS families the hardest.
"I didn’t have money for food. My health began to deteriorate. Sometimes people would scream from the letter box, ‘Open the door!’ The situation became unbearable. The gas company, the electric company started to threaten me that they would cut off their services. I had no money to give to them or anything to give to them, nearly every day someone used to knock the door and of course, I was too scared to open the door for anyone. My mother and I would both be shaking. I wouldn’t be able to move in fear that someone would see me.” (Hajar, beneficiary in her 80's)
Often invisible to the community at large, many HHUGS families are heavily stigmatised and therefore marginalised. After all, who wants to help those tarred with the ‘terror suspect’ brush?
For those struggling with isolation
Broken families left to fend for themselves throughout the year face the long dark nights of winter feeling more alone than ever. Extreme cold and long winter nights makes it more difficult for people to leave their homes during these months, compounding the feeling of loneliness and isolation.
The prospect of a 50 mile average journey one way to visit a loved one in prison in these arduous conditions is nothing short of daunting. Remaining indoors within a poorly heated home is the only other option.
"In Winter, they would come all the way here at 6am in the morning, to take us there (to the prison) and would wait outside for 2-3 hours so that we get to meet our family, and then bring us back home.”
The effects of loneliness and isolation amongst the elderly can be much worse during the winter months. Extreme weather can mean poor transport links become non-existent and access to the shops and services – and crucially, social networks and activities – ceases. Research shows that social isolation and loneliness increases health risks, puts older people at greater risk of cognitive decline and makes them much more prone to depression.
For those suffering poor health
Alongside the seasonal outbreaks of virus and illness, the onset of Winter exacerbates existing poor health- whether it is respiratory illness, osteoporosis, depression, chronic influenza, infections and weak immune systems.
This often hits the very young and the over 60s the worst as they struggle to protect themselves. The number of preventable excess Winter-related deaths continue to rise every year in the UK. The majority of excess winter deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases – such as stroke and heart attack – and respiratory diseases, such as the flu.
The cold affects vulnerable people in particular, for instance by increasing blood pressure, and causing blood to thicken, which can lead to thrombosis. It also lowers resistance to infections.
Be there for those desperately searching for warmth this Winter.