The MP for Bristol East, Kerry McCarthy, has given her full backing to Bristol Blanket Bank, praising the initiative for providing a safety net to those who cannot afford heating or are homeless, so that they can stay warm this winter.
Kerry meet the founder of what is believed to be the UK’s first blanket bank on Friday in Bristol. Junior Saunders is giving out free blankets, donated by members of the public, from The News Junction, 7 Union Street in Broadmead. People who are struggling to keep warm can collect a blanket from the newsagents for free, and anyone who wants to donate bedding, pillows, sleeping bags or similar items can drop them off there.
The initiative is developing quickly and Junior is keen find other premises throughout the city that will act as collection/ distribution centres. Last year there were over 24,000 excess ‘winter deaths’ in England and Wales, with people, particularly the elderly unable to afford their fuel bills and keep their homes warm. Energy prices have risen by 7% on average in the last year, taking the average annual direct debit bill to £1,247. As a result of rising energy bills it is estimated 300,000 have fallen into difficulties this winter.
Kerry McCarthy MP said: “The Bristol Blanket Bank is a brilliant idea, and Junior Saunders should be praised for taking the lead with this initiative. Too many people are living in fuel poverty, struggling to heat their homes and to pay rising fuel bills, and this is even more of a problem for people living in sub-standard poorly insulated properties. I fully back plans to expand the project throughout the city and in the coming weeks I will be working closely with Junior to explore ways in which we can help as many people as possible to keep themselves warm this winter.
“I believe this is Britain’s first Blanket Bank and while we should be proud of the work this project is doing, we should also question why the Government is being so slow in helping people who are living in fuel poverty. Bristol Blanket Bank – and indeed, the many food banks that have sprung up across the city - is helping the very people who have been forgotten by this uncaring and out of touch Government.”
Bristol Blanket Bank founder, Junior Saunders said; "My vision is to expand the Blanket Bank throughout the city and the UK. Since The Post published its first article about the Bristol Blanket Bank, I have received overwhelming support and I am delighted to receive backing from my MP, Kerry McCarthy. Keeping warm should be as easy as buying milk from a newsagent and by expanding Bristol Blanket Bank I want it to l be as equally easy to pick up a free clean blanket. With the support from local community, I hope to have the project fully up and running throughout the city by the end of the year.”