The hike in today’s energy price cap will see household gas and electricity bills top £3,500 a year. This will push millions of people in communities across the UK into fuel poverty, and many thousands of businesses will fold. Care homes and schools will be forced to choose between retaining and recruiting staff and heating their buildings.
I won’t go into the rights and wrongs of the Government’s approach here, or the political vacuum at the heart of Westminster that’s exacerbating the situation. Instead, I want to focus on the community approach.
I think that this cost of living crisis will be equal to Covid-19 in the disruption and distress caused. This means that the community response needs to be at the same level. We need those people who stepped up to help their neighbours during Covid to help again. This time, we’ll be needing to galvanise action around fuel and food poverty, checking our neighbours are warm, knowing where they can go to get help with their bills and where they can get free blankets or draught proofing.
Community centres and libraries will need to become ‘warm places’, where people can go when they can’t afford to keep their heating on. It’s a terrible state of affairs that communities are left to help themselves in a time of crisis. As autumn and winter bites, things are only going to get worse.
Keynsham Community Energy is continuing to offer free draught proofing and energy saving products over the coming months
But we have ambitions to do more. We are working on a project to give slow cookers to families, and we want to work with other community organisations in Keynsham to give people access to blankets, hot water bottles, thermal socks and gloves and other things that will help them keep warm this winter.
There’s a lot to do. Many people in our community are going to have a really tough time. Keynsham has a wonderful community spirit, and we’ve seen how we can pull together in a crisis. We’re looking for volunteers to help us reach people in need. Please get in touch via the contact form on our website if you’re able to give a few hours to support our work.