Kate Winslet has a heart of gold. After a mom of two unsuccessfully begged the public and the government for help in a time of dire need, the actress saved the day. Carolynne Hunter has two daughters, one who is disabled, Freya. She was just told that her energy bills will skyrocket to nearly $20,000 this year, and Winslet footed the bill.
Russian Oil Ban Has Led to Impossible Cost of Living, Energy Crisis Protests
In the midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, countries across Europe vowed to sanction Russia. The EU also vowed to stop buying and using Russian oil. But that is easier said than done. Now, countries across Europe are urging citizens to take 2-minute-long showers, lower their household temperatures to the low 60s, and not use essential appliances like ovens at times. Norway has asked citizens to take communal saunas (it’s a popular form of hygiene and relaxation there). And massive factories that use a lot of energy are being shut down, leading to mass layoffs and worries of a looming recession.
This is all hard to grasp at times in the context of nationwide struggles. Although, if you Google “Paris protest,” “Prague protest,” “Madrid protest,” or pretty much any major city in the EU, you’ll see photos of masses of people picketing together, urging higher wages and begging for assistance with energy costs and the costs of living.
Carolynne Hunter Works Full-Time, May Not Have Had Enough to Pay for Daughter’s Life Support Without Kate Winslet’s Help
On a microcosmic scale, it’s easier to understand what this all means. Carolynne Hunter’s story is a perfect example.
Carolynne Hunter’s 12-year-old daughter, Freya, struggles with Cerebral Palsy and breathing problems which necessitate oxygen assistance. She lives at home and the family receives nursing assistance through at least two helpers every day, via NHS and SDS (social care systems in the UK).
Ms. Hunter works a full-time job, making just too much to receive universal credit (similar to welfare in the US). But she barely makes enough to survive, putting her in a weird limbo where she and her daughters are forced to live in fuel poverty.
“Our situation is very complex, it’s like we don’t fit in,” Ms. Hunter told BBC. “Our energy is way above average, but I don’t earn enough to pay for it.
“And we’ve cut back on everything that we can. My older daughter and I historically have lived in fuel poverty as we don’t use the heating in the rest of the house.
“We freeze so I could afford to pay for what’s needed for Freya.”
The situation is worsened because they need a larger house so they can have room for Freya’s medical equipment. This means that their gas and electricity bills are higher. Worse, the Hunter family is being forced to shut off the heat in every room except for Freya’s.
“We’re still freezing and we’re not even at minus temperatures yet,” said Ms. Hunter to BBC Scotland. “I am nipping at the staff not to put the heating on unless it’s necessary.
“The council have put solar panels up to help with blackouts but don’t think it’ll help with the bill.”
Freya, Carolynne’s Family Warned of a $20,000 (£17,000) Energy Bill
One week ago, Ms. Hunter established a GoFundMe, asking for the public’s support.
“Despite campaigning publicly for the past 7 months about how detrimental the increase in energy prices are for my 12-year-old Daughter Freya living with severe complex health needs who requires a high level of nursing support and equipment at home, the UK and Scottish Government have failed to acknowledge my pleas for appropriate support to be put in place to prevent a Healthcare Crisis for my family,” she wrote.
Ms. Hunter further explained how the Clackmannanshire Council sent her a letter warning of a potentially massive increase in her energy bills. This comes in the midst of ongoing concerns throughout the EU of upcoming 3-hour power outages this winter due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
“Below is a forecast of my DD amount prior to the Liz Truss Price Cap Freeze of £2500 however with the recent announcement from Jeremy Hunt next April my annual cost for Electric & Gas as forecasted by an energy advisor at Clacks Council will most likely be around £17,000,” wrote Ms. Hunter.
“In March I was paying £225 a month, I struggled to pay that. Since April I have had £400 a month taken for energy costs. As of 20th Oct £505 is what I am being forced to pay. Help!”
Kate Winslet Paid the Full £17,000 Bill for the Hunter Family
Enter Kate Winslet, the hero of the week who paid the energy bill. That’s right, Kate Winslet paid the full anticipated annual bill for Freya and the Hunters’ energy usage.
“Our journey as family has been very traumatic and I just feel done at this point in my life,” said Ms. Hunter. She added that the donation from the Titanic star made her break down in tears.
“When I heard about the money I just burst into tears,” she said of Winslet’s donation. “I thought it wasn’t even real. I’m still thinking is this real?”
Still, the struggling mom hopes to see the government do more. She knows that there are other families out there who are going through similar and even worse struggles.
“I didn’t speak out to get donations but at the same time I have to make sure that Freya is OK,” said Ms. Hunter.
“I’m going to be helped but what about everyone else? I wanted the government to pay for it and do the right thing. It shouldn’t have to be a celebrity that steps in.”