With 16 million people in the UK unable to heat their homes, thousands of public spaces have been opened for people to warm up
Some 3,305 ‘warm banks’ have been opened across the UK, as millions of people face the prospect of fuel poverty this winter. The Met Office predicts that temperatures could drop to -10 degrees celsius in some locations over the next week.
Organized by a coalition of Christian groups, the Warm Welcome Campaign has seen community organizations, churches, libraries, and businesses open their doors to people desperate to come in from the cold. Some of these spaces offer free tea and a space to work, and according to a report by The National on Saturday, many are “a third or even half full.”
“There’s little doubt that we are heading towards a moment of crisis this winter in the face of energy and fuel inflation,” Christian minister Carl Beech stated on the campaign’s website. “People will be facing a stark choice between food and warmth. Creating warm and super welcoming spaces…is going to be an absolute necessity.”
According to figures from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, 16.4 million people in the UK will be unable to afford heating this winter. The Warm Welcome Campaign stated that one in ten excess deaths this winter will be attributable to fuel poverty, and that government assistance – despite adding billions of pounds to the national debt – will still come £800 ($980) per household short of making up for the increased cost of living.
Meanwhile, freezing weather hit the UK this weekend, with the Met Office predicting snow, ice, and temperatures in some locations as low as -10 degrees celsius. Freezing fog is predicted across southern England on Sunday and Monday, with sleet or snow potentially hitting the southeast on Sunday.
Energy costs and inflation – which were creeping upwards since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic – have skyrocketed since the UK decided to cut itself off from Russian fossil fuels earlier this year. The situation is much the same in the EU, with Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blaming the bloc’s leaders for pushing “Europe, in particular the European Union, towards a global energy collapse.”