People in one part of Nottingham say they are ‘fighting to survive’ as the cost of living crisis continues to affect the most vulnerable.
Bulwell resident Gillian Hindson is on disability benefits and said her gas and electricity bills have risen “tremendously”.
“I daren’t put my central heating on and I don’t use my cooker any more”, she said.
“The only time I cook is on a Sunday for a dinner but otherwise I live on sandwiches.
“I daren’t put the lights on because I’m frightened it will use too much electricity.
“I used to have a shower a day and I can’t do that any more, I have three a week now and I try not to use too much water.
“People like me, we’re fighting for survival. It’s horrendous. I think it will be a bad winter and after Covid last year, it’s never ending.”
Ms Hindson lives alone and suffers from bipolar disorder.
She has a dog but says the price of pet food is also taking its toll on her finances.
She added: “I’ve got money in my savings account which I don’t want to touch but eventually, I’ll have to go into that.
“The government thinks giving you £400 towards your heating makes a difference but that soon goes down.
“It makes me feel depressed. I’m trying my hardest to save for Christmas but all I do is just sit there worrying.”
Kevin Burkett has been a market trader for 30 years.
The 59-year-old, who sells school uniforms at Bulwell Market, is also working night shifts at Tesco a few times a week.
He said: “I’ve taken two jobs on. In lockdown when I had to shut my business down I started work at Tesco.
“When my business opened up again, I needed to carry on doing two jobs to make ends meet so I work two-night shifts a week.
“I work all day on a Saturday, I sleep for two hours and then I work from 9pm to 6am.
“You can see people are struggling day to day, it’s hard.
“People don’t know how they’re going to pay their gas and electric bills as well as their mortgages.”
Parents Sam Pritchard and Andrew Robinson sit in Bulwell library with their two-year-old son who is reading a book in the children’s corner.
The pair also have a six-year-old son who lives with them at home in Aspley in a council house.
Andrew said: “We haven’t had any gas on at home because we are trying to be really careful.
“It’s freezing at the minute, but if we have the heating on for an hour and when we turn it off it’s gone.
“We don’t have a shower either which means we have to use more water. We use our slow cooker a lot.
“We come to the library because it’s warm and it’s free.
“We have started coming more regularly now.”
Sam added: “It’s difficult at the minute.
“We get free school meals for the kids in the holidays which is really helpful.
“We are worried going into winter. I’m not worried about myself because adults can put layers on.
“But kids can’t express that they’re freezing. Our six-year-old is suspected autism and ADHD so for him to explain how he is feeling is hard.
“We have to hope and pray he is warm enough. I am grateful for the help but it’s hard.”
Alan Walker has been a market trader for 40 years alongside his wife Jan.
They run a stall, ‘Jan’s Free Range Eggs’, selling chicken and duck eggs.
The 71-year-old said: “Eggs are costing a considerable amount more and we are struggling to get hold of them at the moment.
“But we’re finding people are coming back to markets where they can still get a bargain.
“We have put prices up on certain things because we have had no choice.
“Customers understand the cost of living crisis and they are still coming down and supporting us.”
Cllr Ethan Radford (Lab), councillor for Bulwell, said he is hearing stories of “people living in absolute despair” in his area.
He said: “This is the breaking point for a lot of people.
“This winter alone, the council will have to look at opening warm banks to ensure people don’t freeze.
“This government isn’t actually in power. The only thing they care about is uniting their own party and staying in power for as long as they can.
“They don’t give a damn about what politics they are making which are having a devastating impact on people’s lives.
“A Labour government would properly fund public services, so that parents aren’t having to choose between feeding their children and heating their homes and so that pensioners aren’t going to freeze to death this winter.”
A Treasury spokesperson said: “Countries around the world are facing rising costs, driven by Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, and we know this is affecting people here in the UK.
“The government’s Energy Price Guarantee will save the typical household around £700 this winter, based on what energy prices would have been under the current price cap – reducing bills by roughly a third.
“In addition, we have provided at least an extra £1,200 of cost-of-living support to 8 million of the most vulnerable households.
“We’ve also reversed the rise in national insurance contributions and made changes to Universal Credit to help working households keep more of what they earn.”