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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Laura Connor

Woman wraps herself in blanket and quilt at home as turning heating on is too expensive

With more than 16 million people facing fuel poverty this winter, the Sunday Mirror’s Warm Hearts Christmas Appeal is raising funds for the Warm Welcome campaign.

Warm Welcome supports more than 3,000 warm spaces – from libraries to pubs and hairdressers – that are encouraging people to drop in for free.

We need your donations so these spaces can keep providing warmth and, at some, food or hot drinks.

Backing the initiative, former Labour PM Gordon Brown said: “I ask all who can to act. Your communities and local charities need you.”

Here, we meet the people popping in to the Old Fire Station in Gipton, Leeds.

Retired firemen Normal and Trevor (Paul David Drabble)

Since being made redundant more than 18 months ago, volunteering has given Mandy Dunnell a new sense of purpose.

Working in the community shop in the Old Fire Station allows Mandy, 63, to help those hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis by providing them with cut-price bags of shopping.

But, as she faces rising energy bills and food costs of her own, Mandy has started volunteering just to keep warm.

She is one of dozens of people who now use the Warm Welcome service, which started at the centre six months ago.

Mandy, who lives alone, tells the Sunday Mirror: “I sit at home wrapped in my blanket and quilt. I stay in bed, or get in, to not put the heating on. My redundancy pay isn’t covering my bills as they just get higher and higher so now I come here to keep warm.”

Sharon and Derek Jones also began using the centre’s Warm Welcome space when their fuel bills doubled – and even drying clothes got too costly.

Ex-railway worker Derek (Paul David Drabble)
Centre development manager Fran Etherington (Paul David Drabble)

Sharon, 52, has nine grandchildren and cares for mum Christine, 73.

She says: “My mum has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and my son George, 11, has asthma.

“I constantly worry about having damp clothes around and how it may affect their health.”

Ex-railway worker Derek, 67, adds: “We’ve been lucky it hasn’t been too cold so far but with the temperature falling, this place has been a godsend.”

Former fire fighters Trevor Leighton and Norman Overfield, both 80, used to work at the fire station, but now come for its Warm Welcome space.

Trevor says: “Bills are going up… everyone is struggling. Places like this have given people some hope.” Centre development manager Fran Etherington, 56, says: “People are anxious about their bills. We knew introducing a Warm Welcome space would help alleviate the pressure.”

Warm Welcome is coordinated by the Good Faith Partnership and is supported by the Salvation Army, Libraries Connected and Muslim Council of Britain, among others. Find a nearby centre at

You can donate here.

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