Cost of living ‘crisis’ for Peterborough families with disabled children, says charity CEO
“We are in a crisis,” said Michelle King, CEO of Little Miracles – a Peterborough-based charity that supports families of children with additional needs, disabilities and life-limiting conditions.
The rising cost of living has affected everyone, but Michelle says the families associated with the charity – many of whom have children who need round-the-clock care and assistance – have been “ disproportionately affected” by rising energy bills and runaway inflation.
Life Support Concerns
“The cost to these families is exorbitant,” said Michelle, who founded the charity in 2010.
“We have a family who have over £400 on their prepayment meter indicating that they have only three days left. They are worried that their meter will run out overnight and the life support system of their child will die out.
“We have families who are panicking. We have families who turn off their heating in all their other rooms except their child’s bedroom; we have families skipping meals so they can keep feeding their children; and we have families who charge their survival to the center.
There are non-negotiable costs for families with children with disabilities that the average family does not have to bear.
Depending on the condition of the child, families may have to pay to keep life support going; run washing machines to wash sheets, towels and clothes regularly and heat water more often for showers in damp rooms.
One family said their bills had doubled from £300 to £737 a month.
“It’s hard to see families in such heartbreaking situations,” said Michelle, who has a severely disabled child of her own.
“There are families in difficult situations. We can’t do much as a charity, but we’re doing everything we can to support them.”
The Little Miracles charity is currently supporting 15,718 people across 14 centres, providing families with support, training and activities, as well as much-needed respite for carers and a safe space to play.
In 2013 Little Miracles built a new center in Hartwell Way, Raventhorpe, as hundreds of people from across the country came together to help with the project as part of the BBC TV show DIY SOS for the Children In Need.
Prime Minister Liz Truss also kicked off her Conservative leadership campaign by visiting the Peterborough center in July this year.
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The charity is currently running a campaign encouraging people to donate and knit blankets to help keep children warm this winter, as many families cannot afford to heat their homes.
“We want to distribute as many blankets as possible to families,” Michelle said.
“Normally, we distribute electric heaters, but we were not asked for them this year because the families cannot afford to operate them.
“It scares me how many people could fall through the net not knowing what support is available to them.”