A CHURCH in Suffolk has joined a community scheme to provide a warm and comforting place for people who have difficulty paying their heating bills.
Holy Trinity, Bungay, has joined together with a library, a theatre, and a café in the town’s Warm Rooms Scheme, offering heated space and free tea, coffee, and biscuits for five days a week, The Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
The scheme opened at the end of last year after the group Bungay Community Support started receiving calls from people who were freezing cold at home in old and draughty buildings. “Many residents never thought they would be in the position of needing help with basic bills,” the organiser, Linda Bailey, told the Telegraph. “People might be too proud to ask for help, but having a friendly welcome here helps them get the support they need.”
People living in rural areas found it particularly hard, as vehicle fuel prices have risen. Kate Jackson, a 43-year-old freelance teacher, told the paper: “One garage is charging £1.71 a litre, which I’ve never seen before, but, in this area, there’s no alternative.”
Among those keeping warm at Holy Trinity was Silven Wright, aged 67, a retired salesman whose energy bills will go from £150 a month to about £250 next month. “It’s a serious problem here,” he said. “I saw it first at the grocery shop, then I realised it was everything else, too.” From April, the average family faces an increase in bills approaching £700 a year, owing partly to record fuel prices, and predicted rises of up to a half in basic food prices.
The director of policy and advocacy at National Energy Action, Peter Smith, said: “We have had warnings from the fire brigade: one person was using a barbecue in their kitchen to cook their food because they couldn’t afford to turn the oven on. People are using desperate coping tactics to stay warm in their homes.”