“21.5% of all excess winter deaths are attributed to those in the coldest homes – these deaths are avoidable” [1]

Fuel poverty is a very real problem, and Stoke-on-Trent almost tops the list of areas most affected by fuel poverty in the whole of the UK. Many local families are having to make the “Heat or Eat” decision, and most of the time “Eat” wins, meaning more and more people are spending the winter living in a freezing cold home.

The annual epidemic affecting millions of families

For children, fuel poverty puts them at increased risk of developing asthma (and other respiratory conditions later in life). It can also lead to more severe acute illnesses and a higher risk of being admitted to hospital, leading to time off school, and missing out on education and extra-curricular activities.

For adults and the elderly, it can be fatal. Older people living in cold homes are far more likely to develop cardiovascular and respiratory problems, leading to severe acute illnesses and increased hospital admissions. And those with long-term health conditions and compromised immune systems are at an even greater risk of dying.

Not to mention the effects cold has on the mental health and wellbeing of all those living in fuel poverty.

And what effect does fuel poverty have on households suffering from COVID-19?

We do know that fuel poverty increases the risk of respiratory illnesses, and evidence suggests that there is a huge link between colder temperatures and respiratory problems: “Resistance to respiratory infections is lowered by cool temperatures and can increase the risk of respiratory illness.” [2]

But what can we do to help tackle fuel poverty in Stoke-on-Trent?

Working together is always a good start. By working together, we can identify those affected by fuel poverty in the community and provide the right support effectively and efficiently.

At the next Community Share Network event on 8th December, we’re welcoming Megan from the energy charity, the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) for an introduction to Community-led Action on Fuel Poverty.

The session will cover:

CSE is also able to offer more in-depth follow-up support to any community group or organisation looking to take up community-led action ideas in their communities.

As with all our Community Share Networks, VCSE groups across North Staffordshire can connect and share local information and initiatives, exchange knowledge, and learn from each other. And at the heart of our share networks? Collaboration. Not competition. By sharing and exchanging we can build a strong and resilient sector to effectively support the people in our communities.

Join the Community Share Network here



[1] Beat the Cold www.beatcold.org.uk

[2] Public Health England via End Fuel Poverty Coalition www.endfuelpoverty.org.uk