The media has been buzzing about the price increases that British Gas is bringing in and their badly handled response .
I have a particular interest in British Gas as my dad worked for them for many years (thankfully as a gas fitter rather than someone who makes decisions resulting in deaths).
The way peoples homes are (or rather aren’t) heated in the UK is one of the things that makes me most angry in life. When I worked at the National Benevolent Fund for the Aged, trying to help support some of the loneliest, poorest, most isolated older people in the country, it was something that was on my mind rather a lot. I don’t think I was as ever as close to tears in my role as when I was compiling a list of tips for our Winter newsletter about how to keep warm in the winter. Everyone deserves to be warm. Lack of warmth affects both physical and mental health. The discovery of fire is one of the greatest advances, if not the greatest, in the history of humanity. Eons since our ancestors first huddled together against the chill, can we really be in a situation where keeping warm isn’t a right for everyone?
I studied politics at University, worked as a political intern and once considered a career in politics. I’m not ‘big P’ politically involved, but I think whatever your politics are I don’t see how you could possibly think that the status quo is acceptable. Religious or not, socially engaged or not, this is not an issue for a small group of people to answer but for us all to answer.
How can we, as a rich country and the first industrialized nation in the world possibly be in a situation where anyone is making a choice between putting food in their bellies (or the bellies of their children) or making their home reasonably warm? Food poverty is real- if you want to learn more just follow A Girl Called Jack or learn about the work of The Trussell Trust. Fuel poverty is real- check this out. In a twist that couldn’t even be made up, some families are even too poor to heat up the food given to them for free.
The idea that this evening I will go home to a warm home and that someone else will go home to a cold one, and that it will stay cold, not just tonight, but over the weekend and over the coming weeks and over the winter, sickens me and shames me. How does a person in that situation feel about my love and care for them as a fellow member of humanity? Whatever small amount of good I ever manage to bring into the world, it will never cancel that out.