Oscar-winning actress kate winslet has donated £17,000 ($20,000) to a mother facing astronomical home energy bills to operate her disabled daughter’s life support equipment.
Carolynne Hunter’s 12-year-old daughter, Freya, has cerebral palsy and other serious health problems and disabilities. She relies on oxygen for chronic breathing problems and receives 24-hour home nursing care.
Earlier this month, the mother of four from Clackmannanshire, Scotland, launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise £20,000 ($24,000) for the running costs of the equipment that keeps her daughter alive.
“My annual electricity and gas cost as forecast by an energy adviser at Clacks Council will probably be around £17,000,” Hunter explained on the fundraising page.
She told BBC Scotland that it currently costs her family £6,500 ($7,600) a year to run the equipment and heat the house, and they have already been forced to cut back in recent months. To keep costs as low as possible, Freya’s room was the only one heated to keep her and the healthcare workers comfortable.
“The council has installed solar panels to help with the blackouts, but I don’t think it will help with the bill,” Hunter said.
Days after the campaign, a £17,000 donation marked “Kate Winslet and family” was paid to the fundraiser.
Hunter said she was overwhelmed by the screen star’s generosity, who also reached out to wish the family well.
Winslet is a patron of Go Beyond, a charity that provides free breaks for underprivileged and disadvantaged children across the UK.
“Our journey as a family has been very traumatic and I feel finished at this point in my life,” Hunter told BBC Scotland.
“When I found out about the money I burst into tears, I thought it wasn’t even real. I’m still thinking is this real?
CNN has reached out to Hunter and Winslet’s representatives for comment.
Hunter and his family are among millions of Britons facing a challenging winter amid the UK’s economic crisis and rising energy costs.
“I’m going to get help, but what about everyone else?” she added. “I wanted the government to pay for it and do the right thing; It shouldn’t be a celebrity intervening.”
In September, the research firm Auxilione estimated that, without a new plan to keep prices low, the average annual energy bill for millions of people could top £5,700 ($6,700) from next April.
The government announced in May that UK households would receive a £400 reduction in energy bills, spread over six months from October.
And earlier this month, the Department for Work and Pensions said that more than eight million households receiving benefits would receive a payment of £324 ($381) to help with cost-of-living increases before the end of November.
“We understand that people are struggling and that is why we have acted consistently to ensure that millions of low-income families are supported,” Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said in a news release.
“We will continue to act with compassion as we navigate challenging global economic circumstances.”
Reacting to Hunter’s plea for help, Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison told CNN in a statement: “We are painfully aware of the difficulties people are facing right now, which is why the government Scottish is doing everything it can to support households in need.”
Robison added that while the power to cap energy prices rests with the UK government, “the Scottish Government has allocated nearly £3bn this financial year that will help households cope with rising cost of living and rising energy prices.
CNN has also reached out to UK energy minister Grant Shapps for comment.