A study has estimated that thousands of people living in poverty are suffering from heart or breathing issues in North Somerset alone, prompting public health organisations to warn of dangerous consequences if people are unable to heat their homes this winter.
According to the Office for National Statistics (Census), there were around 34,515 people living in poverty in private households in North Somerset as of March 2021.
The NHS says that, when you are cold, your heart has to work a lot harder to pump blood around the body, causing your heart rate and your blood pressure to rise. This increases the risk of conditions such as heart disease, and can even cause heart attacks in some instances.
When the air is cold, as it has been throughout recent weeks, it can become more difficult to breathe due to your airways tightening. Ashma + Lung UK advises that this can lead to wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. It can also cause more difficulties for people with existing chronic lung conditions.
However, there are schemes in place to help households in need this cold season.
A North Somerset Council spokesperson said: “With the Covid pandemic and now the national cost of living crisis, we know that times are financially tough for many in our communities.
"That’s why we’ve put in place a number of schemes which provide help and support. These include the Household Support Fund, where over £4m has supported working age residents and pensioners who claim council tax support.
"We’ve also provided food vouchers to those in need and free school meals. Our welfare provision scheme can provide short-term financial help to buy gas, electricity, food, clothing, travel and more.
"We are also automatically paying 12,000 households in receipt of Council Tax Support (CTS) and inviting an additional 1,400 Housing Benefit customers that don’t receive Council Tax Support to apply."
For more information on what the council can do to help you, click here.