Community activist says cost-of-living crisis has forced some people to wear dressing gowns over their clothes in a bid to keep warm

The growing cost of living crisis presents a “worse risk to public health in Renfrewshire than the coronavirus pandemic”.

That’s the view of one community leader, who says he has “real concerns” about the future for hard-up locals.

Terry McTernan, pictured of the Ferguslie Darkwood Crew, revealed residents are struggling to cope and says some have resorted to wearing dressing gowns over their clothes in a bid to keep warm.

The community activist told the Express: “My real fear is that, come the end of the year, we’re going to be finding people, especially elderly people, dead because of this”.

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And he told how a social media post about his own energy cost crisis attracted a host of comments from struggling households.

Terry said: “I’m what I would call a light user of gas, I’m out all day, I don’t use it to cook and I usually put £40 in to do me a month.

“I got caught out in the shower last week when the gas, which usually does me for a month, ran out 12 days in. That’s the reality of what people are facing.

“I have had responses from people saying they have gas cookers, so they’re trying not to cook, they’re wearing house coats on top of their clothes to save the heating.

“People are saying their energy costs have more than doubled.

“They are having to use emergency on pre-payment meters and top up a lot more often. This is a real concern.”

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One resident even told how they were forced to fork out £90 for a week’s worth of gas and power.

He said the area’s elderly have turned out to attend a twice-weekly lunch club in the Tannahill Centre, adding: “That means that’s at least twice a week they get a bit of a meal and they don’t have to worry about the cost of it.”

Attendance at the weekly Tannahill-based Community Pantry, where up to £15 of groceries can be obtained for as little as £2.50, has increased.

Terry said: “We’ve noticed a lot more people coming to that and we’ve had people asking if it’s only for Ferguslie, or if we can come from other areas.

“What choice do people have? It’s not great weather, we’ve had a couple of ‘taps aff’ days, but it’s still cold and people need their heating on.

“And that’s the situation even before they are facing a rise again in October.”

Labor MSP Neil Bibby told the Express that during doorstep campaigning ahead of May’s Scottish council elections, he has listened to concerns about the cost of living.

The Paisley-based West Scotland politician said: “Out knocking the doors, there is no doubt that people are really struggling.

“People often tell me about the choice they face between heating and eating.

“That is not a cliché.

“It is the harsh reality of life for a growing number of local families.”

“We live in a wealthy country, but not enough of that wealth is in the hands of hard-working men and women feeling the squeeze.

“It’s appalling and it doesn’t have to be this way.

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“Both Scottish and UK governments have the power to provide real help now and Renfrewshire Council should do its bit too, with a freeze on charges.

“People feeling the squeeze don’t want platitudes from politicians. They want action.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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