A DAD living in a freezing cold house that he can’t afford to heat says his daughter’s cuddles keep him alive.
Ian Copete, 41, relies on hot drinks and hugs from Lyra, nine, after his family home’s energy bills soared from £150 a month to £400.
They say it left them no choice but to leave the heating off in their small two-bed flat until December – and sometimes to use the warmth of the stove when it’s on.
The High Wycombe primary school teacher has suffered from chronic kidney disease since birth – which has led to him having four kidney transplants in his lifetime.
Due to NHS cost-cutting measures, he can only be on dialysis for the minimum required 12 hours a week in hospital, instead of the 20 hours a week he needs to stay healthy enough to work.
As a result, he must make a choice between dialyzing at home, at enormous expense, to stay healthy enough to work, or not working.
Ian’s wife Heather, 41, and daughter Lyra therefore had to be on hand to wrap him in blankets and give him a hug – and bring him hot drinks to keep him warm.
Worse, the energy price cap has hardly affected him as the cap is based on average energy consumption per month, leaving the family massively out of pocket despite receiving government welfare.
Ian said: “It’s awful but I almost feel lucky to have had the disease my whole life because it means I can assert myself and have gotten used to the way I feel – where other patients are at the Symptoms and most can experience such a shock can not work.
“I try to do up to 20 hours of dialysis a week because the more you do, the better you feel and the healthier you are.
“Normal kidneys are working all the time, but mine are completely inactive, so the only time I have kidney function is when I’m on the dialysis machine.”
He says his wife has heat-saving ideas and big, thick curtains help save heat.
The family will leave the stove open after using it to get extra heat and will use the dryer to heat their home while also drying clothes.
Ian says: “It’s better than nothing and we have a lot of blankets. We should be able to leave the heating on – but we’re determined to hold out until December because we can’t afford it.
“My daughter Lyra will come and bring me blankets, she will make me a hot drink, cuddle with me, she was amazing.
‘But she shouldn’t have to – we should be able to afford to turn on the heating.
“She’s an amazing little girl and she deserves the attention and the Christmas lights and seeing me at home.
“We want to give her as much life as possible because she deserves it every day.” Heather says she feels helpless to see him shaking under a blanket.
His wife said she is proud that her daughter is taking action to help her father.
She said: “Lyra gets on with him so well, she wraps him in a blanket and cuddles him to keep him warm.
“We’re just pulling together as a team because that’s the only way we can get through these difficult times.” Ian says that cost-cutting measures and patient demand for dialysis in NHS hospitals has resulted in patients experiencing a ‘shadow tax’. their health by paying the energy bills they need to stay healthy and work.