A mum who faced an extortionate energy bill to run her daughter’s lifesaving equipment is fundraising to help other families through the cost of living crisis this winter after a Hollywood actress generously donated £17,000 to her last year.
Carolynne Hunter, from Tillicoultry, was faced with energy bills which were soaring into the tens of thousands in November 2022 due to numerous pieces of lifesaving equipment that her daughter requires.
Freya, who is 13 and the youngest of four children, has severe complex health problems and disabilities, is non-verbal and blind and requires full-time oxygen and at-home nursing care.
At the time, Ms Hunter was facing an annual energy bill of £10,000, but Clackmannanshire Council said it could hit £17,000 in 2023.
Upon hearing the 50-year-old’s story, actress Kate Winslet reached out and donated £17,000 to help support the family on a GoFundMe page Ms Hunter had set up asking for help.
The Titanic actress said she felt she had to do something when she heard Ms Hunter was “going to have to put her child into care because she could not afford her electricity bills” and it “absolutely destroyed” her.
Now, Ms Hunter is fundraising for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) to help families like her own through the cost of living crisis.
She wrote: “Despite campaigning for months to the Government about what would happen, nothing changed. I told my story and it captured the hearts of so many people, who wanted to help me, including Kate Winslet.
“GoFundMe reached out to let me know about the support and guided me through the fundraiser set up so that Kate and others could donate after being moved by my story. Kate and her family ended up donating £17k, changing life for Freya and me.
“Now, a year on from that fundraiser, inspired by all the kind donations, I want to raise money for families in Scotland who have children with complex needs and are still struggling with expensive power bills.”
The charity will be able to distribute the funds raised through its hardship grant to help families to get through the winter.
Ms Hunter, who has campaigned for families with children with complex needs to be given more support by the Scottish Government, added: “If you have a child with complex needs, you cannot compromise on their care. Many need life support machines, ventilators, medicine drivers – not to mention making sure the house is warm and comfortable for them and carers.
“This can result in mounting bills, debt and anxiety for parents who already have enough on their plate. I have spent the last year continuing with my campaigning to illustrate how detrimental the increase in energy prices are for families with children living with severe complex health needs who require a high level of nursing support and equipment at home.
“The UK and Scottish Government have failed to implement change to provide appropriate support to be put in place to prevent a healthcare crisis for families.”
CHAS chief executive, Rami Okasha, said: “With winter fast approaching, our thoughts at CHAS are occupied now more than ever with how the families we support will manage their energy costs during the coldest months of the year.
“We are delighted that GoFundMe and Carolynne Hunter are joining forces to raise much-needed funds to support these families. Our thanks go to everyone who is able to donate.
“But we are clear that we also need to see more action from both the UK and Scottish Governments to support these families with unsustainable energy bills.”
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