An activist has told how rising costs led her to turn to a wartime cooking method to save money. Jennifer Jones, who is disabled, says she felt the effect of rising prices ahead of this month’s energy peak.
The Sheffield mother-of-two is behind the Big Power Switch off which prompted households to turn off the power for 10 minutes on Sunday evening. She calls on people to do the same on Saturday April 16 at 7 p.m.
She told Yorkshire Live how she, along with millions of others, was struggling to get by as prices rose higher and higher. And she said she had already looked for ways to cut costs, such as adding layers of clothing.
She’s also adopted a blitz cooking method – using a haybox to cook soups and stews, which helps reduce the time she needs to use the stove. It was popular during the war when fuel was limited and so effectively a non-electric slow cooker.
Haybox cooking means that the cook heats the food to a boil in a covered pan, then this pan is placed in a box which is lined with hay and then covered with hay as well. The insulation of the hay means that the heat stays around the pot allowing it to cook throughout the day.
Jennifer said: “I don’t feel like I’m in one of the richest countries in the world, I don’t know where I am. It’s so hard for everyone. My son is going through a growth spurt
“My heart sinks because I’m going to have to find him new clothes because he’s growing up.”
The 41-year-old was speaking following the recent rise in energy bills which have hit the pockets of people across the country. Although she knows how much her gas bill is going up, she is still waiting for the increase in her electricity, but predicts the cost will triple.
In February, Ofgem announced the 54% increase in the energy price cap, the increase came into effect on 1 April. The increase took £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 a year for UK customers on default rates paying by direct debit. Prepaid customers saw an increase of £708, from £1,309 to £2,017.
To combat the rising cost of living, Jennifer, who is part of Disabled People Against Cuts Sheffield (DPAC), organized a protest which took place on April 1. She said around 10,000 people attended that day.
Jennifer, who was already feeling the financial pressure before the hike, said: “I could see [in the media] people are protesting in the streets across cities across the country, but I’m stuck in my house but wanted to be a part of it. I want my voice to be heard.
“I saw Martin Lewis on TV one morning and he said I had no more things to help, it devastated me. It was like a punch in the stomach, that’s when I knew that we were completely lost and that we had to find a solution quickly.
“It’s not just about heating or eating, it’s a matter of life and death for families like mine. If it was just me who was affected by this, I would be ashamed not to leave the house but that’s everyone.
Jennifer, a victim of domestic violence, has been diagnosed with long-term chronic fatigue syndrome also known as ME and fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain throughout the body, as a result of the trauma. But she also takes care of her 10-year-old son, autistic and educated in a specialized school.
Speaking to people through the campaign group, she said people were worried about the rising cost of living. Hundreds of thousands of families across the country are believed to have joined Sunday’s Big Power Switch Off.
People were asked to turn off all household appliances for just 10 minutes or reduce the amount of electricity they use during the day. Jennifer acknowledged that some people, particularly people with disabilities, might not be able to participate in a protest like this if they have vital equipment at home, such as dialysis machines.
Jennifer slammed politicians for not taking more action on the rising cost of living and urged people to support the campaign. She added: “The amazing thing about it, whether or not you’ve been in a political campaign – people from all walks of life, we’ve found a problem, everyone’s coming together.
“This is the first time that people from left, right and center have come together because everyone is affected. The government and Ofgem have made a big mistake, they have caused a problem, we are all coming together .
“It worked, it really worked. We start again on April 16 at 7 p.m., we know that Parliament will be back from vacation, we want that to come to their minds. It gave me hope that we can change that. I’m disappointed with the people who represent us, who we pay to represent us, but who haven’t done anything about it.
Responding to criticism that the Big Power Switch Off doesn’t work, she added, “On the one hand, when you’re not using power, you’re not giving them money. The energy company must estimate the usage each day or week, the company then purchases energy to supply to its customers. But to store the energy that is not used, they have to pay to store that energy.
“The more households that participate in the demonstration, the more we touch their pockets. We’re going to keep doing it, we’re going to get bigger and bigger until it changes.
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