Mum 'straps hot water bottles to disabled son' to keep him warm as she can't afford heating
Mum Abigail Tunstall, 49, says in order to keep paying her mortgage, she has had to sacrifice the heating.
A mum says she's had to turn off her heating and "strap" hot water bottles to her disabled son to afford rising mortgage costs amid the cost of living crisis.
Abigail Tunstall, 49, was forced to become creative after temperatures in her three-bed home in Truro, Cornwall, plummeted to 9C, and she was unable to afford the heating.
The mum-of-two suffers from several physical disabilities meaning she is unable to work and receives allowances for her disability which she uses to support her 15-year-old son, who is also disabled.
In January 2022, Tunstall was paying £360 per month for her mortgage but a series of price hikes means she's now paying £510 - which is due to rise to £525 in March.
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Tunstall says in order to keep paying her mortgage, she has had to sacrifice the heating.
The former nurse said: "When the temperature gets down to nine degrees, I have to keep my son warm somehow - even if it means strapping hot water bottles to him.
"Because of my health conditions I am often in pain and that is not helped by the cold - so my pain has gone through the roof.
"It's the trifecta of food, utility bills and mortgage - if it wasn't all three it wouldn't be so terrifying."
Tunstall has a connective tissue disorder called hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
She also suffers from fibromyalgia, long COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis, a form of chronic fatigue.
She is the sole supporter of her sons, aged 15 and 20, and foots the mortgage payments on their house alone, as her former husband left before her second child was born.
Since around 2016, she has relied solely on PIP and ESA from the government, as well as some child tax credit.
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Tunstall says she's at the point where if prices don't stop rising, she'll be forced to sell her home.
But that may also be problematic as she and her son will require equipment and a stairlift which they cannot afford to have fitted in a new home.
She worked for the NHS until 2012 when she took redundancy after noticing her conditions were causing her too much “brain fog” to continue.
She then began teaching singing lessons from home before eventually stopping working altogether to become her disabled son's carer.
It was announced last month millions of households on low incomes would receive new cost-of-living support of £900 this spring to help with spiralling bills.
The money will go directly to bank accounts of over eight million eligible means-tested benefits claimants in three payments.