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UK News

Disabled people skipping meals or going without heat as Christian charity warns of 'genuine catastrophe' over cost of living

by Sophie Drew

It's feared hundreds of disabled people are eating cold food or having cold showers to cope with the rising cost of living. 

It's believed that around a quarter of people living with disabilities are skipping meals or aren't heating their homes in order to make ends meet. 

Welfare charity Leonard Cheshire says more than half feel anxious and depressed about their financial situation.

Niall Cooper, from Church Action on Poverty, is hugely concerned about the effect that the cost of living crisis is having.

He said: "I've done this job for 25 years and this is the scariest time I can I can think of in any of that time. 

"If you're already - with the price hikes we've had just in the past month - struggling to pay food bills and have the heating on, then what we're talking about in October is really, really scary. 

"We need, as individuals but as a nation, to get to grips with what it means; this is not just a cost of living crisis. For some people, it's a genuine catastrophe.

"It's going to be hard to see how people are going to get through to Christmas."

For Church Action on Poverty, this issue strikes close to home.

"Two of our trustees are in this situation", Niall said. 

"Martin's got a life disability which means he can't work. 

"He can't afford to heat his house. 

"He has an chronic pain and that pain is made worse when he can't heat his house. So this has very direct impact on his quality of life."

Niall believes that disabled people are being disproportionately affected by the crisis - and the reasons are clear. 

He continued: "A lot of disabled people are relying on benefits - not all disabled people, are unable to work, but a lot of people aren't, or have limited ability to work, and are therefore reliant on the benefit system, the welfare state. 

"The benefits didn't go up in line with inflation last month, so effectively, people that are reliant on benefits have seen their incomes cut at the same time when prices are going up. 

"Now the message we get from government is well we want people to work and works the best route out of poverty. 

"If you can't work because of a life-limiting disability, then that's not an option open to you.

"If you're disabled, it's not your choice. If you're not able to work because of a life-limiting disability or illness, that is not your choice. 

"Therefore there is an absolute priority on society, on the government, on the rest of us, to ensure that people in that situation are protected from making decisions which will actually impact really directly on people's lives.

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