The Big Issue has partnered with Fuel Bank Foundation to support Big Issue vendors who are struggling to pay they fuel bills. No one should have to live in fuel crisis.
The impact of COVID-19 on Big Issue vendors has highlighted an issue faced by many households across the UK. Big Issue vendors have been unable to earn a living for several months of the past year. Restrictions have also meant more time than ever is being spent at home. Therefore they are using more energy on heating and lighting, placing extra pressure on already stretched finances.
Over the past year, at least one vendor has contacted us every week to discuss support for paying their utility bills. Fuel Bank directly help support this need by providing one-off payments to help support those who are struggling to pay for gas or electricity.
COVID-19 has highlighted the reality for many of running out of money for gas and electricity. For some, this is something that has happened in the past, and for many years, and was a common event when growing up. But for an alarming number, COVID-19 has brought this about for the very first time, with many finding themselves without the support networks or tried and tested ways to get through a gap in household finances where you are forced to literally live without energy.
The impacts of waking up one day cold, unable to cook a hot meal nor keep food chilled, not able to have a warm shower or wash clothes, no access to wi-fi or TV for school learning, and unable to connect with family or society is significant and should not be understated.
Like-for-like, Fuel Bank need has increased by approximately 23% since the outbreak of the pandemic. However, this masks some local spikes in need that we have seen, where demand has increased by more than 300%.