Before Christmas, a small group of Cheltenham citizens (Action for Living) started chatting about the coming winter, energy prices and the cost of living crisis. We knew that donations to food and energy charities were falling, yet demand was rising. Hundreds of individuals and parents across Cheltenham had a morning dilemma: ‘shall we heat or eat today?’ The government had announced that every household (including second homes) would get a £400 energy rebate. In Cheltenham that would mean over £20m. Just imagine what a difference redirecting just 1% (£200,000) of that could make to those most in need.

We had come across a few articles on the idea of enabling those who could afford to easily donate some or all of their rebate towards those who would struggle to pay for food or energy. These local campaigns were called “Donate The Rebate.” Seemed simple.

However, how would we find a charity or organisation that could receive and distribute the donations? – none of us knew of one. We contacted local councillors, Cheltenham Borough Council, and people who ran food banks and food pantries. It happened that there was some experience of this sort of fundraising. Cheltenham Food Network, churches and others had been set up #FeedCheltenham during the pandemic to support families that were struggling with food poverty. So, we connected with the people who had successfully run that.

This partnership of council, local charities and churches have now set up #WarmCheltenham. This includes 18 warm places for people to visit. Donate the Rebate has now been launched as part of #WarmCheltenham. There is an online donation webpage Donations are being channelled through existing local food banks and energy charities to those most in need.

So, generous people of Cheltenham, if you are fortunate enough to not need some, or all, of your £400 energy rebate you can donate it to those who do. This all began with a handful of local people, all we need now is you and others to donate along with us.

Geoff Gibbons, Cheltenham Action for Living

Donate the Rebate logo
Donate the Rebate logo
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