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York church to assist ‘fuel bank’ to tackle cost-of-living crisis

16 September 2022


A CHURCH in York is planning to help parishioners to forage for firewood, as fears about the affordability of winter fuel bills continue to mount.

The assistant curate of St Barnabas’s, York, the Revd Matt Woodcock, told BBC News that he wanted to help the community to create a “fuel bank”.

The events will be held later this year, but some wood has already been collected. One member of the congregation, Lee Morley, has been bringing offcuts from the building sites on which he works. “Hopefully, it will help people get through the energy crisis,” Mr Morley said.

Mr Woodcock emphasised that the foraging will not involve felling any trees. Instead, participants will be encouraged to gather up wood that is already on the ground. “We’ll combine a good walk with some foraging, filling a couple of vans with firewood,” he said.

The Labour MP for York Central, Rachael Maskell, told the BBC that such “drastic measures” were necessary “to keep people alive this winter”. Ms Maskell criticised the plans announced by the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, last week, which will mean that average fuel bills will be capped at £2500 per household.

Last week, the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, highlighted the increasing number of people asking foodbanks for provisions that did not need heating, to be able to save on energy costs (News online, 8 September).

On Tuesday morning, the Baptist minister and founder of Oasis Church, Steve Chalke, wrote on Twitter that Ms Truss’s plan would “still leave poorer families facing a very tough winter, with richer households likely to get twice as much cost-of-living support as poorer ones”.

Mr Chalke ended his message — which was re-posted by the Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson — with the exclamation that such a course of action “can’t be wise!”

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