Hollywood actress Kate Winslet has come to the aid of Scottish family who were facing the unbearable prospect of having to put their 13-year-old disabled daughter into care, because they were going to be unable to meet the soaring fuel bill.
The Titanic star had been made aware of Carolynne Hunter’s situation and decided she could not let it happen, and donated thousands of pounds into a Go-Fund-Me page.
Huge bill for “hospital at home”
Ms Hunter was warned by Clackmannanshire Council that her bill could hit £17,000 next year. Her daughter Freya is on life support for her severe cerebral palsy and relies on receiving oxygen for chronic breathing problems, meaning that she basically has a “hospital at home”.
The Oscar-winner said on learning of the family’s plight that it “absolutely destroyed me.” She added: “I just thought on what planet is anyone going to let that happen, this is completely, completely wrong.”
Big hearted star could not stand by at let “unthinkable” happen
The actress and her team were able to track down the family and put it to them that she wanted to help and would like to make a contribution. From that a Go-Fund-Me page was set up and this enabled the donation to occur.
She went on to explain that it just felt wrong that any mother should be put in a position where she is forced to make such a heart-breaking decision to allow her daughter to be taken from her, because she simply did not have enough support and therefore could not pay her bills.
“I just could not let that happen,” she said, before urging the powers that be to have a good think, and make changes that will actually help people in those sorts of positions.
Round-the-clock care for Freya
She confirmed that she donated the full £17,000 that Ms Hunter had been warned to expect, after hearing Freya’s mother say: “The level of care she is having is probably on par with what would be happening in an intensive care ward.” The family require round-the-clock assistance from at least two NHS nurses. or staff from self-directed support (SDS), which is a form of social care, who monitor Freya’s heart rate, as well as oxygen levels and carry out frequent suctioning to keep her airways clear.
Heating turned off around house to afford to keep equipment switched on
Ms Hunter had admitted before the star’s intervention, that the family “freeze” so as to be able to heat Freya’s room. They live in a large council house in Tillicoultry, around 35 miles north of Glasgow, so there is space for all of her daughters specialist equipment, but it means costs are very high.
She said she turns the heating off in most rooms to save money. Although she works full time on a moderate wage, she does not receive the same support as those on low incomes. “Our situation is complex; our energy is way above average, but I don’t earn enough to pay for it!”
Surreal experience leaves mum in tears
Recalling the moment she was told of Kate Winslet’s involvement she said she genuinely could not believe it, stating that she was in shock, and finding the whole thing totally surreal. She explained that she only discovered sometime later of the size of Ms Winslet’s contribution and said upon realising how generous the famous actress had been, she “burst into tears” before adding: “What Kate has done is she has recognised Freya in a society and a world that Freya is very hidden.”
Concern for others behind plea to government
Ms Hunter also said she would like to see Scottish and UK governments stepping in to support families with care responsibilities who may end up struggling. “I didn’t speak out to get donations but at the same time I have to make sure that Freya is OK.”
She said she was incredibly grateful, but although she was now going to be OK she was concerned about others living in similar circumstances. “It should not have to be a celebrity that steps in, the government have to do the right thing.”
Genuine act of kindness
Cynics might say Kate Winslet can afford it, and of course that is correct, but nobody forced her to get involved. She was genuine in her concern and desire to help, casting her in a very good light and shows she has a big heart.