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Warm bank visits could be a winter reality for millions of Britons

With no signs of inflation easing and the energy crisis here to stay, several organisations are teaming up to open ‘warm banks’ to ensure British residents are able to stay warm this winter.

We’re familiar with food banks, but as colder months loom closer amidst the energy and cost-of-living crisis, the term ‘warm banks’ is starting to appear online and in news headlines around the UK.

With UK energy bills expected to be 97 percent higher in October than they were in spring, the question on the minds of British residents is: can I afford to heat my home this winter?

Though energy bills have been capped at around £3,000 a year, the increased cost of keeping our homes warm will place immense pressure on some 7 million households expected to enter fuel poverty.

The National Energy Action charity has reported that even without inflation and when energy supplies are stable, around 10,000 people die each year as a result of poorly heated homes.

To prevent this number from increasing, councils and charities are working together to set up warm banks, a concept similar to food banks, where people can gather at no cost to help them stay warm during colder months.

While these efforts are commendable and clearly vital, the fact that warm banks are needed at all is shocking.

It seems incredibly dystopian that in the UK – one of the world’s richest nations – and in 2022, millions of people will be forced to seek refuge in museums, libraries, and other NHS buildings in order to stay warm.

This sentiment is shared, with representatives from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition saying that normalising the need for warm banks should not become part of our reality.

The organisation believes that governments have a responsibility to invest in long term solutions to solve fuel poverty.

This would include ramping up access to renewables and weaning off of fossil fuels, as prolonged reliance on oil and gas has enabled the current crisis to occur.

In Aberdeen, Birmingham, and Bristol, local authorities have promised their residents that warm banks will be opening from October. These warm banks are expected to offer hot drinks, charging ports for electronic devices, Wi-Fi access, computers, as well as food.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said, ‘it almost sounds like wartime but we’ll be working with community organisations and partners around the city to set up warm places that people can go to if they need to, come the autumn.’

 

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