An unidentified hero has reportedly been posting cash through people’s letterboxes to bring a bit of Christmas cheer ahead of the festive period at a time when energy bills have soared to astronomical levels. Residents living on a street in Chatham, Kent, have been left delighted by the mystery gift giver, who posted Christmas cards with “kind” messages and notes of cash through people’s doors.
At a time when energy bills have reached record highs due to the surging costs of wholesale gas, fuel poverty charities have warned that millions of Britons are at risk this winter. And with many more facing extra challenges when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s energy price cap goes up to £3,000 from April, the current crisis appears to have no end in sight.
But as temperatures plunged to sub-zero across various parts of the country this week, someone braced the cold and hit the streets, offering a tiny bit of help during this tough time for the residents of Chatham.
Maxine Parker-Gallagher, 58, was thrilled and left incredibly touched by the kind act. She said: Yesterday evening there was a card put through the letterbox and I went to pull it out and saw that it was blank on the front and I thought that was strange.
“I opened it up and inside it had that little message and it just blew me away – I thought it was just so kind.”
Ms Parker-Gallagher lives in a small close of eight homes. She is disabled and spends around 70 percent of the time in a wheelchair. After opening the card, she then called her friend who lives a few doors down to find out if she had received exactly the same thing. And to her surprise, she had.
She said: “My friend had seen him come through her gate and he had a little stack of cards and he was going round and popping them all in the letterboxes.
“She’d never seen him before, because we do live in this little community everybody knows everybody and when somebody different comes in to the close everybody notices.”
One neighbour reportedly caught a glimpse of a man who seemed to be in his late 20s or early 30s, who they suspected must have been he mystery gift-giver. 92-year-old Joan Green, who lives in the area, was also left baffled when she received the kind card in the post.
She said: “I got hold of it and there was no name on the envelope and I thought ‘where’s this from’ and I opened it and I saw the fiver. It was very good of them, whoever thought of it. It helps out a lot with the way it’s going with the electricity and gas.”
National Energy Action has warned that the impact of this winter’s spiralling prices combined with the April price change will leave 8.4million UK households in fuel poverty. As well as the change to the energy price guarantee (£2,500 to £3,000), the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) will also end in March, with help set to be targeted to towards the most vulnerable.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action (NEA), said: “This winter has already been bleak and next year is set to be even worse. With Government support being reduced and energy bills spiralling yet again in April, one in three households will be in fuel poverty.
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That means many of them will be forced to bed wearing coats, rationing showers and hot water, it means running up huge debts or self-disconnecting and going cold. Millions of the most vulnerable – carers, people with disabilities, those on low incomes and living in inefficient homes – are already bearing the brunt this winter.
“The situation will continue to get worse next year. The effects of this are devastating on both physical and mental health. Make no mistake, cold homes can kill. Government intervention must prioritise the most vulnerable in 2023 and beyond.”
This also means energy bills will have more than doubled in 18 months. Back in October 2021, the average annual energy bill was £1,277. But by April 2023 it will be £3,000 for typical households.
But for larger than average households, which may have an energy-inefficient home or have high usage perhaps because of medical equipment, you can expect to pay even more than this.