Ann Wafula-Strike says she’s rationing the heating.

Almost everyone is affected by cost of living crisis. Over the past couple of months, Britons have been faced with rising bills for electricity, fuel and food. While millions experience hardship, it has a profound effect on the disability community.

Ann Wafula-Strike, a Kenyan-born British Paralympian, spoke to HuffPost UK about her concerns for herself and other disabled people as we approach winter.

Wafula-Strike contracted polio at the age of two and now suffers from post-polio syndrome. It is a viral infection that affects people diagnosed with polio, with symptoms such as constant fatigue, muscle weakness and shrinkage, and muscle and joint pain.

“My body is struggling to regulate heat or cold. So sometimes when I get cold, I can freeze for a very long time,” she explains. “It can affect my sleep patterns and things like that.”

With the electricity bills rising, she allocates each day how long she will keep the heating on. “Even though I don’t want to, I had to turn on the heating, because what else is there to do?” – she adds.

Her disabled peers face the same problems. The newly minted workers from Office of National Statistics show that more than half (55%) of adults with a disability report that they find it difficult to pay their electricity bills, and around a third (36%) find it difficult to pay their rent or mortgage payments, compared to 40% and 27% of people without disability, respectively.

“Many of my disabled friends or peers are on medication that has serious side effects. You can feel the chills when you’re cold, so you need to keep warm,” says Wafula-Strike. “Sometimes it’s the nature of different restrictions that you have to stay warm all the time.”

People with disabilities have to choose between heat and illness, and the latter can lead to those people being hospitalized, putting more pressure on the NHS, she adds.

The wheelchair racer and campaigner is frustrated with the government, but also nervous – not just for himself, but for the entire disability community. “It’s not just about me, I’m worried about other disabled people in the UK and their families,” she says.

“Some people have to rely on machines that require the use of electricity throughout the day and night to survive, how will that be distributed?”

People with disabilities are worried about the current food prices. Consumers will pay £571 more for groceries this year than last year, research firm Kantar has revealed.

Previous ONS research – released in August – it turned out that bread, cereals, milk, cheese, meat, vegetables and eggs have become more expensive for the British. “It is imperative that people with disabilities have a balanced diet, as not eating vegetables and fruits can make people with disabilities more susceptible to infections, especially in winter,” Wafula-Strike explains.

But she is most concerned about the payment of the living wage to the disabled. Currently, disabled people in the UK are entitled to a one-off payment of £150. It is part of the government’s £15bn cost of living the package that was presented back in May. As well as the one-off payment, the Treasury has provided an extra £400 in energy bill subsidy, additional payment of £650 for the poorest families and a payment of £300 for pensioners.

Wafula-Strike says that is not enough. “We’re asking for it to be doubled, or even tripled,” she says.

Charitable organization for the protection of the disabled found Earlier in 2022, people with disabilities in England and Wales are twice as likely to live in poverty and more than twice as likely to live in a cold home that they cannot afford to heat.

James Taylor, Scope’s director of strategy, criticized the payout for not being enough support. “Life costs more when you’re disabled, so £150 from the government won’t cut it,” he said.

The rise in the cost of living will have intentional effects on human healthand pushes them further into debt, the charity believes.

Wafula-Strike is equally fearful of what may lie ahead for people with disabilities. Jeremy Hunt announced that his long awaited financial report – until Halloween – will be postponed until November 17. This means we will have to wait longer for any announcements on taxes, spending and cuts.

“I hope the disability community doesn’t get thrown under the bus, because that tends to happen to people with disabilities,” Wafula-Strike says.

She worries about the future of disabled people as inflation worsens. “It is already difficult for people with disabilities to rely even on guardians and nursing homes. The carers are struggling to help us as they too are suffering from the cost of living.’

Her message to the government and the new prime minister, Risha Sunak, is to review the lump sum payment for people with disabilities. “The £150 doesn’t even touch the sides, they have to do more and raise it to match inflation,” she says.

“I am not the only one who is worried, the whole community of disabled people is worried. It is expensive to be disabled, how does this government expect us to live?”