Abta LifeLine expects applications for support from cash-strapped agents will rise in the coming weeks as temperatures drop.
Director Trudie Clements said: “Winter is coming and people will be desperately wanting food, fuel and warm clothes.
“It can be a grim time, when people can rack up more debt to afford Christmas; it is a vicious circle, especially with kids.”
The charity’s new Wintertime Assistance Package provides those in need with vouchers for energy, food and clothing to ensure no one has to make the “agonising decision between staying warm or putting food on the table”.
Clements said: “Year on year, we are seeing more applications. Most people have been balancing on a tightrope for a long time. The cost of living could tip over their balance. The heating has just come on and Christmas is coming.
“We offer fuel vouchers for those on prepayment meters to top up their card. That was important last winter and we’ll be doing more this winter.”
Most applications for support come from women and especially single-parent families, which reflects the fact the sector predominantly employs women. Some applicants
are part-time and receive benefits, but others are full-time, and the charity also helps those who have
left the industry.
“We’re seeing more applicants off work with long-term sickness and they cannot survive on statutory sick pay,” she said. “And mental health issues can cause financial difficulties, which in turn can worsen mental health.”
She said unexpected events can prompt applications, especially as some on low incomes cannot afford insurance. “Appliance poverty is real – if a machine breaks down, they can’t replace it,” she said.
The charity also helps people get advice about debt from experts at Citizens Advice. In the last quarter, advice for applicants has been worth the equivalent of £45,000, with help such as debts being written off or checking for benefits that should be claimed.
Clements is now preparing to fundraise at Abta’s Travel Convention in Bodrum, Turkey (Türkiye), next week. The event is the main source of income for the charity each year.
“When I come back from the convention, I expect the numbers applying [for support] will go up as the temperatures go down,” she said.
If you would like information or to donate, visit abtalifeline.org.uk
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