Bracing ourselves for the perfect storm

By Ciara Quinn

STANDING at the bus stop on Monday morning, it was hard not to feel the drop in temperature against your cheek announcing winter’s imminent arrival.

Hats, scarfs and heavy coats came out from hibernation this week as we prepared to wrap up against the cold weather and start to heat up our homes.

In the face of never-ending hikes in home heating, food and electricity bills we went to the Kennedy Centre to ask shoppers – especially coming off the back of last year’s bitter winter – if they’ll be able to afford to heat their homes and whether the Executive should be doing more to help the most vulnerable in our society.

“Going by last winter I think it will be hard for people to heat their homes – they will just have to cuddle up,” smiled Bernard Jaffa from the Malone Road.

St James’ resident Séamus Brownlee said: “I think heating your home will be tough this year, especially on the older and vulnerable people in the community. It’s them we have to look out for.”

Elanna Murphy agreed. “I’ve just got 500 litres of oil and it cost me £400. It’s going to be hard this winter, the price of gas, coal and electric just keep going up and up,” she said.

Finaghy Road North woman  Deirdre Walsh believes the government should be doing more to help the elderly. “Trying to heat your home will be hard on our older people – there is no doubt. I would like to see more help for them coming down from the government.”

76-year-old Betty Shortt from Riverdale agreed. “I heard talk that the government are looking to reduce the winter fuel payment depending on your age – I hope that this isn’t the case for the sake of older people in the community,” she said.

Finally, Andersonstown’s Nikki Doran had this to say. “The cost of living keeps rising and after you pay for everything else it’s hard to cover the cost of your heating. Oil, gas and coal keep going up and the prices will never come down.”

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