Able2UK Losers

Parents of disabled son worry about the cost of Christmas

Keith Butler with Geordie

December 2002 was meant to be Geordie’s first and only Christmas, born with Charge syndrome he wasn’t expected to live to see his second birthday.

Doctors asked Keith and Helen Butler if they would take the 17 months old baby home so he could spend the festive season out of hospital.

Geordie is now 22, yes he may have that chronic illness, autism and registered deafblind, but he defeated the odds, but he may not be celebrating Christmas.

This time there is no medical reason behind the cancellation of Crimbo, it’s the cost of living crisis which is clunking a huge spanner in the works.

“Helen is going into hospital on 19 December for an operation. I don’t want to seem callous, but she will be in for weeks and that will save us money over the most expensive time of the year,” Keith,22, told The Big Issue.

“We don’t mind going without, not one bit, but Geordie will never go without, not on our watch.”

According to Sense 33 percent of disabled people will not be able to afford to celebrate Christmas this year, 34 percent will not be seeing any friends or family and 37 percent say they can’t afford festive food.

Out of the 1,005 people who participated in the survey 48 percent said they don’t have enough money to buy presents and 42 percent will be saving electricity by not turning on festive lights.

Richard Kramer, chief executive of Sense, told the publication: “Every day, disabled people are having to make impossible choices, like whether to eat or heat the home.

“And Christmas, far from being a time for celebration, has just become an additional, unbearable expense.”

The Butlers need to cover the costs of running a feeding machine, operate a specialist bed and ensure the house is kept warm.

On top of that they need to fork out £2,250 a year to take Geordie to day services provided by Sense Touchbase Pears based in Birmingham.

Keith says one of the most difficult things is Geordie doesn’t understand that “Santa has a budget”.

“When he sees his presents under the tree, he’s so happy, he’s excited beyond belief,” he explained.

“We can’t take that from him, so no one else will be getting a present. His three older siblings will only have a token gift, and likewise our six grandchildren.”

Sense says the cost of living crisis has put 53 percent of disabled people into debt, with 66 percent concerned on how they will pay their bills.

“What we really need is a social tariff, and lots of people like Martin Lewis have been campaigning for this for years but absolutely no progress has been made,” Keith said.

“We are prisoners to our bills. We can’t live, Geordie can’t live. And there are families in much worse positions, under interminable pressure. We can’t wait another winter.”

[ In 2022, food and drink were the second-largest expense after gifts in the UK ]

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