Student who studies with scarf by candlelight appeals for increase to Fuel Allowance


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.17 12 Jan 2021


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A student from Co Mayo says she studies with a blanket, a scarf and a lit candle to try and keep warm.

Rachel (21) is studying at NUIG and lives at home with her mother.

It comes amid calls to increase the €28 weekly Fuel Allowance as people are told to stay at home.

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The means-tested allowance is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments during the winter months.

Rachel told Lunchtime Live the current funding is not enough to cover the costs of heating a house.

"We often would have to go without heating.

"The winter months are really expensive as it is with electricity, food and Christmas - and now that we're staying at home they have to keep heating the house and it's very hard."

She said it takes a long time to heat their house, and it doesn't last.

"In our house we have a range, which is extremely slow, and that takes a lot of coal which would be OK only for our house is so badly insulated that the heat just leaves so quickly.

"We put on the fire and it's OK, but by the time I wake up in the morning I can see my breath again.

"And our windows are really bad - they're supposed to have two handles, but almost every window is missing one so they have a really bad draft, and we have to put kitchen paper in-between to try and stop it but it doesn't really help.

"Even in our rooms we have to cover the air vents because they just make our rooms really, really cold no matter what we do".

'It doesn't make a difference'

Rachel says her mother holds her hands when she goes to be bed, to try and warm them up.

"Sometimes in my own room I might put a scarf in it but it doesn't make a difference.

"I study in my room with a blanket on me, I wear a scarf and I have a candle lit beside me to try and stay warm but it doesn't make a difference".

"When I go to bed at night, every night, my mom she holds my hands because they're so icy and she tries to warm them up cause she doesn't want me to go to bed cold".

She added that any increase to the allowance would be a welcome one.

"I don't think people realise the difference an increase would make to families like mine".

"When a family needs the Fuel Allowance, it's because they need it or else they'll have nothing.

"And when you're in a situation like this, even a tenner makes a difference".

She said any increase, such as doubling the allowance, "would change our lives almost".

"Ireland is said to be a wealthy country, but when you're in a situation like ours it doesn't feel like it at all".

Main image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

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Co. Mayo Cold Fuel Allowance Heating NUIG Rachel Social Welfare Payments Winter

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