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The Mitchell’s Story: Share the Warmth

An elderly couple sit closely together on a sofa
20 November 2023

Andy and Linda were recovering from cancer and other severe health problems but were living without heating or hot water…

This winter, thousands of people will be freezing cold in their own home. Our Share the Warmth campaign is raising funds so the Centre for Sustainable Energy advice line can help as many people as possible keep warm this winter. People like the Mitchells…

The Mitchells, Andy and Linda*, are a resilient couple in their golden years. They own a mobile park home but were unable to keep it warm enough. Their LPG boiler was broken, and they had no central heating or hot water. Their only option? Boiling water in a kettle, a makeshift solution for bathing.

Park homes are often draughty, and heat is constantly escaping. Due to this heat loss, their electric radiators became very expensive to run and the Mitchells barely felt the warmth they needed. Andy and Linda lived like this for almost eight months.

Impact of a cold home on their health

A cold home is unpleasant for anyone. At best, it’s uncomfortable and at worst it’s detrimental to physical or mental health. Living in a cold home when you’re already unwell means the body has the additional task of fighting off the cold. And, not surprisingly, stresses of illness, low finances and cold homes will significantly impact mental health.

Unfortunately, the Mitchells have many health conditions that make living in a cold home particularly dangerous.

Linda battles COPD, diabetes, mobility issues, and breathing difficulties, symptoms of which are exacerbated by the cold. Meanwhile, Andy fights prostate cancer and a chest cyst, and has recently overcome bowel cancer. They both need a warm, cosy home for their recoveries.

Support for Linda and Andy’s heating issues

The Mitchells are supported by a social worker, but they didn’t have access to energy advice or financial support to improve their home heating system and quality of living.

They rely on a state retirement pension and Andy’s modest private pension of £140 per month, with no savings to fall back on. While they were willing to contribute towards a new boiler, their available funds fell far short of covering the full amount required.

Our CSE advisor diligently examined grant schemes offered by their local council. Unfortunately, both the council and the government currently lack funding for LPG boilers in park homes, leaving the Mitchells in a challenging situation.

Before being referred to CSE, Citizens Advice was helping the couple to explore if they were entitled to further benefits and financial support.

How we helped

To take the pressure off immediately, our CSE advisor provided shopping vouchers worth £225 so the Mitchells could pay for food and other essentials. And to keep them warm until their LPG boiler could be replaced, we sent a warmth pack – including electric blanket, hat and slippers worth £70 – and oil-filled radiators that they could keep.

While our advisor hit an initial block finding a suitable grant for the Mitchell’s boiler, they kept pushing to find solutions. Our advisor applied to third parties for funding and St Anchors Society gave us the grant we needed to install new heating. Upon completion, we provided four bottles of LPG gas for the Mitchell’s to use, worth £95 per bottle. Meanwhile, thanks to the upgrade to their boiler, they’ll save an additional £260 every year on their heating.

Our advisor seamlessly coordinated the entire installation process, ensuring that the Mitchells were spared any worries about potential mishaps or confusion. Our advisor personally guided them through every step of the journey, offering the support they needed.

Donate to Share the Warmth

Help more people like Linda and Andy

Transformed quality of life

Following the new boiler installation, the Mitchells said they experienced a remarkable transformation in their quality of life. The new heating system has brought warmth to their home, preventing unnecessary deterioration of their health. They now enjoy the convenience of running hot water, a seemingly simple but crucial convenience that many of us often take for granted. Tasks like washing, cleaning, and cooking have become as quicker and more efficient for the Mitchells, as they should be.

These improvements removed a substantial mental burden for the couple. With their basic needs now met, they can focus on their recovery.

I was with Linda and Andy Mitchell the day before the new heating was installed and they told me how much they were looking forward to being able to be warm again!

Without CSE’s help nothing would have ever got better about their heating. The CSE advisor has probably saved two lives by doing what you do.

The Mitchells don’t have lots of money, no rich relatives and nothing to sell! If the lack of warmth next winter didn’t get them, the depressing situation they are in (including significant health issues for them both) would have! Thank you.

Sara, a Lay Pastoral Assistant for the local church has been helping the Mitchells

Your support can make similar life-changing impacts for more families in need.

Share your warmth today

CSE helps lots of people in unique circumstances. No two cases are the same. But what is always the same is our caseworkers are dedicated to creating coordinated solutions for those who need our help.

Our advisors are trained to offer in-depth advice to improve people’s living situations, which often positively impacts their mental and physical health.

But, our advice line is at its limit. We can only continue to help people if we have funding. You can ensure our advice line stays free and available to whoever needs it by sharing your warmth in the form of a donation today.

Every £100 we raise can help an additional person in crisis. With your help we can give more people a lifeline.

Donate to Share the Warmth

We can take donations from individuals through Charities Aid Foundation.
We can take donations from organisations though Stripe.

*Names have been changed for privacy.

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