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The choice between heating and eating in BS13

Posted on 11th November 2021

 As we approach Christmas 2021, less than a year since the last Covid-19 lockdown, we know that high numbers of people in BS13 continue to face food hardship as already stretched household budgets collide with the end of the Universal Credit uplift, the halt to furlough and the soaring rise in energy costs.  

The impacts of hunger are severe whatever the time of year, but that as the days get shorter and colder it hits even harder. This means that we are sadly anticipating an increase in the demand for our Real Meal Food Service in Hartcliffe and Withywood as we move into winter.

At the beginning of 2021, Heart of BS13 was able to support households with winter energy costs, and we had many conversations with residents where they described the decision to ‘heat or eat’ and the dreadful impact this decision takes on their health and wellbeing.

This winter, we know that many BS13 families will be living in a cold house, with empty kitchen cupboards, meaning that the small amount of calories eaten are burnt to stay warm.  Parents tell us that this causes them considerable anxiety, but they don’t feel there is any other option when they’re desperately trying to save on energy costs.  Heating gets turned on for a short time as children come home from school and adult strategies for staving off hunger include, sleeping for longer periods and filling up on water or black tea.   

Ultimately this causes high levels of physical and emotional stress for parents and their kids, so we know that we have to work in many different ways to address food and fuel poverty. During the school holidays, we offer delicious, free food for children and their families and in the new year we will be launching a mobile shop offering affordable, quality staples such as bread and milk.  We’re also thinking about batch cooking and developing a communal freezer and slow cooker project which will save on household energy and ingredient costs.  

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