• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Warm banks: the cold heart of the energy crisis

ByTasha Stewart

Nov 3, 2022

Reading the news in recent weeks has felt for many to be more like reading daily updates on a children’s playgroup than reporting on the political elite. However, whilst this farcical imitation of a government has taken centre stage and may be baffling, horrifying or even amusing to watch, the crisis outside of Parliament is no laughing matter. With the prices of basic necessities sky rocketing, and more people slipping into poverty every day, there is no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis is well and truly underway.

With the continuation of strikes across the country, new reports of potential power cuts throughout the winter, and the current energy crisis, I can’t help but feel as though the UK has taken a time machine back to the 1970s. Recently, the heating crisis has reached such a dire point that councils have begun to open up ‘warm banks’, allowing people to escape the cold of their own homes, or the cold of the streets, and find refuge somewhere warm.  Whilst this may be an ingenious idea for some that are having to make the difficult decision between heating and eating, the idea that this is necessary is, quite frankly, terrifying. 

Why on earth should the creation of ‘warm banks’ be necessary in times such as these?

These warm banks may give some a new found sense of ‘community spirit’ and neighbourly compassion, but if this is what it takes for a little kindness then I’d rather not have it. It seems ludicrous to me that the world’s sixth richest country, currently lead by a Prime Minister worth £730,000,000, is apparently completely incapable of looking after its poor and needy (a category that is growing rapidly and exponentially); that it requires such harsh circumstances and such a totally inept government before anything is done to help the most vulnerable. If it didn’t feel like it already, it most certainly feels now that the welfare state is a redundant bygone of another era, quite possibly to the joy of many a Tory. 

It hardly seems like long ago that food banks were a rare sight, but now with over 2,500 in the UK, and well over 200 in Scotland alone, they have become commonplace in modern Britain’s social architecture. In 2021-22, The Trussell Trust reported distributing over 2.1 million food parcels, with over 800,000 of these going to children. Whilst these facilities are vital to allow people to survive, they reinforce the stigma attached to poverty and further strengthen the class divide. Now, with the cost-of-living crisis worsening day by day, and this necessity for warm spaces to lessen the burden of heating homes, it seems the country’s poverty crisis is worse than it has ever been. Reaching out for help may have never been harder; the embarrassment associated with poverty is now amplified by the admittance that many are unable to keep themselves warm. 

Why is it that we must rely on the kindness of strangers to paper the cracks of our social fabric, left by inept governance? Through the current government’s mistakes and inaction, and they’re continued focus on tax cuts for the rich as opposed to the health and wellbeing of the country, they have well and truly left our most vulnerable out in the cold.

Fireplace” by tkw954 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.