Charity Suffers as Energy Prices Rise

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Goldsworthy refers to the recent surge in energy prices, which have put an unprecedented strain on Brunelcare’s budget. The charity’s gas and electricity bill has increased by £100,000 a day since the start of the year, and Goldsworthy says it is struggling to cope.

 

“This is a huge problem for us – we simply cannot afford these increases,” she says. “The government and the energy companies are abandoning us. We are not being given any help or support and are facing an impossible situation.”

 

Brunelcare is far from alone in its struggles – charities across the country report similar problems. Age UK, the country’s largest charity working with older people, says it has seen a “significant increase” in the number of calls to its helpline from pensioners worried about their energy bills.

 

The problem is twofold: first, energy prices have risen sharply in recent months, and second, the government’s support for low-income households has not kept pace. The result is that charities have to choose between providing vital services and keeping the lights on.

 

For Brunelcare, the decision has been made easy because its care homes cannot function without electricity. “We simply cannot put our residents at risk, so we have had to find the money somehow,” Goldsworthy says.

 

The charity has been forced to dip into its reserves and take out loans to pay its energy bills, and Goldsworthy clearly says this is not sustainable in the long term. “If we carry on like this, we will be facing bankruptcy within a year,” she says.

 

The problem is not just financial – it is also practical. Brunelcare’s care homes are spread across Bristol and Somerset, and Goldsworthy says the charity struggles to transport staff and supplies between them.

 

“Our staff are working round the clock just to keep things going, but it’s getting harder and harder,” she says. “We have had to cut back on our services and are only just managing to keep our head above water.”

 

Goldsworthy is frustrated by the lack of action from the government and energy companies and says she feels let down by both. “They are not listening to us, and they are not doing anything to help,” she says. “It feels like we are being forgotten, which is very scary.”

 

Oona Goldsworthy is the chief executive of Brunelcare, a charity that provides sheltered housing to 1,400 people and runs seven care homes in Bristol and Somerset. She is speaking to The Guardian about the recent surge in energy prices, which have put an unprecedented strain on Brunelcare’s budget.

 

“We were set up during the blitz when older people were bombed out of their homes in Bristol. Our mantra then was to keep them warm, fed, and alive – and we haven’t needed to worry about that in the decades since,” Goldsworthy says. “Now we’re in a situation where we are being asked to choose between providing vital services and keeping the lights on.”

 

Goldsworthy says the charity’s gas and electricity bill has gone up by £100,000 a day since the start of the year, and Brunelcare is struggling to cope. “We simply cannot afford these increases,” she says. “The government and the energy companies are abandoning us. We are not being given any help or support and are facing an impossible situation.”

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Brunelcare is far from alone in its struggles – charities across the country report similar problems. Age UK, the country’s largest charity working with older people, says it has seen a “significant increase” in the number of calls to its helpline from pensioners worried about their energy bills.

 

The problem is twofold: first, energy prices have risen sharply in recent months, and second, the government’s support for low-income households has not kept pace. The result is that charities have to choose between providing vital services and keeping the lights on.

 

For Brunelcare, the decision has been made easy: its care homes cannot function without electricity. “We simply cannot put our residents at risk, so we have had to find the money somehow,” Goldsworthy says.

 

The charity has been forced to dip into its reserves and take out loans for its energy bills, and Goldsworthy clearly says this is not sustainable in the term. “If we carry on like this, we will be facing bankruptcy a year,” she says.

 

The problem is not just financial – it is also practical. Brunelcare’s care homes are spread across Bristol and Somerset, and Goldsworthy says the charity struggles to transport staff and supplies between them.

 

“Our staff are working round the clock just to keep things going, but it’s getting harder and harder,” she says. “We have had to cut back on our services and are only just managing to keep our head above water.”

 

What should the government and energy companies do to help charities like Brunelcare? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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