- Polio survivors experience extreme intolerance to the cold which can result in hypothermia
- Polio Survivors Ireland says extending eligibility criteria for the charity’s Heating Support Payment to help more members keep warm this winter will cost the charity as much as an extra €25,000
- Heating Support Payment is funded through donations and fundraising costs
Polio Survivors Ireland is warning that the health, and potentially the lives, of its 1,000+ members could be at risk this winter as a result of rising energy costs. As polio survivors’ have an extreme intolerance to cold, putting them at risk of hypothermia, the organisation says it has no choice but to extend it’s ‘Heating Support Payment’ to more members in a bid to ensure they can continue to heat their home throughout the winter without having to make sacrifices, adding to the indignity of their situation.
With World Polio Day taking place on 24th of October each year, the organisation says it’s an opportune time to remind people that polio survivors’ extreme intolerance to the cold means that they have to take extra measures to remain warm at all times. Even in summer, polio survivors have to light fires and wear extra layers of clothing. Heating is therefore essential for survivors as without it many would have to resort to staying in bed all day to stay warm, or cut back on food to pay their energy bills. Polio survivors also cannot use hot water bottles as they may experience numbness as a result of polio and post-polio syndrome. This can result in survivors suffering severe skin burns.
The €125 euro support payment funded by Polio Survivors Ireland is necessary for low-income polio survivors each year to ensure they can pay their heating costs. As a result of the substantial increase in energy costs, Polio Survivors Ireland says they will now be broadening their eligibility criteria so they can extend this payment to more survivors than ever before.
The charity currently pays up to €30,000 each year to provide the Heating Support Payment to low-income survivors. The Heating Support Payment is funded entirely through donations and fundraising. Extending the payment to more members this year will cost the charity as much as an extra €25,000, which will come entirely from donations and fundraising.
Speaking about the winter Heating Support Payment, polio survivor Evelyn from Cork said:
“It keeps me out of bed, otherwise I would have to stay in bed to keep warm. The cold gives me pain in my joints and the heating in the house is very essential. With the amount of money we’re having to pay out, I don’t know where we’ll be, but the payment helps me.”
Fran Brennan, CEO of Polio Survivors Ireland, said:
“We all know that energy costs are rising at an alarming rate. Many of us are worried about how we are going to meet these extra costs, but for some people higher energy costs threaten their health and even their lives.
Our winter heating grant of €125 is provided to polio survivors on the lowest incomes. This costs up to €30,000 p.a. and helps approx. 230 of our members. This year, with huge increases in energy costs, many more polio survivors will face a challenge to stay warm and safe. We have to respond. We estimate this will cost an additional €25,000 and all of this money will have to come from donations and other fundraising.”
Polio Survivors Ireland was established nearly 30 years ago and is the only organisation in Ireland providing practical services and support to those unfortunate enough to have contracted polio as babies or young children. They provide a range of services including mobility aids and appliances, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and respite, and raise awareness of the issues faced by polio survivors. They also work to educate medical professionals, social care providers and health policy makers about the reality for all those still impacted by polio.
Polio Survivors Ireland has a network of support groups around the country and they also provide a telephone support service for those who can’t leave their home. As well as providing stair lifts, callipers, bespoke footwear, electric scooters and wheelchairs, the organisation also helps survivors to access a range of supports. For those who are isolated, a listening ear is often the most important lifeline the organisation provides.
World Polio Day takes place on the 24th of October every year. It was established over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. While there is no cure for polio, it is preventable through vaccination. Polio is now only endemic in two countries, as a result of the vaccine, with Africa being the most recent continent declared polio free.
However, over the past several months, poliovirus has been repeatedly found in London sewer water. This was a vaccine-derived strain most likely acquired from travel abroad, by an individual. There has also been one case of polio in the US in a community with low vaccine uptake.
These worrying instances emphasises the importance of celebrating the availability of the polio vaccine, reminding us that keeping up to date with immunisation schedules is the only way to prevent and to eventually fully eradicate polio.
To donate to Polio Survivors Ireland, visit www.polio.ie
Keep up to date with Polio Survivors Ireland on Facebook @PolioSurvivorsIreland and on Twitter @PolioIreland
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