Kate Winslet donates to GoFundMe campaign to help a mom and her disabled daughter pay their soaring energy bills.

Carolynne Hunter’s 12-year-old daughter Freya has severe cerebral palsy and relies on receiving oxygen for chronic breathing problems and receives 24-hour at-home nursing care.

The mother of four from Clackmannanshire, Scotland says it costs £6,500 a year to run the equipment and heat their home in Tillicoultry. But Clackmannanshire Council warned her this bill could hit £17,000 next year.

“We Freeze So I Could Afford To Pay For What’s Needed For Freya.”

Carolynne Hunter/GoFundMe

Hunter fears they will face further fuel poverty amid economic turmoil and she worries that possible winter power cuts in the event of reduced gas supply could put Freya’s life at risk.

To fit Freya’s medical equipment, the family lives in a large house which isn’t energy efficient. Hunter works full time on a moderate wage and doesn’t receive the same support as those on low incomes.

“Our situation is very complex, it’s like we don’t fit in,” she told BBC News. “Our energy is way above average but I don’t earn enough to pay for it.

“And we’ve cut back on everything that we can. My older daughter and I historically have lived in fuel poverty as we don’t use the heating in the rest of the house. We freeze so I could afford to pay for what’s needed for Freya.”

Hunter launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise £20,000 (about $24,000 US) for the running costs of the equipment that keeps her daughter alive.

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After reading about the Hunters’ struggle online, Kate Winslet and her family donated £17,000 (about $20,100 US) to the GoFundMe and contacted the family to wish them well.

“When I heard about the money I just burst into tears — I thought it wasn’t even real. I’m still thinking is this real?” Hunter told BBC News.

“We’re still freezing and we’re not even at minus temperatures yet,” she said. “I am nipping at the staff not to put the heating on unless it’s necessary.”

In recent months, the 49-year-old mother has been highlighting the challenges faced by people like her struggling to fund vital medical care for their children amid soaring inflation and energy bills. 

“I didn’t speak out to get donations but at the same time I have to make sure that Freya is OK,” she told BBC.

The council put solar panels up to help with blackouts but Hunter doesn’t think it’ll help with the bill.

While grateful for the Oscar-winning actress’s donation, Hunter thinks the Scottish and UK governments need to take more responsibility.

“I’m going to be helped but what about everyone else? I wanted the government to pay for it and do the right thing – it shouldn’t have to be a celebrity that steps in,” she said.

Winslet is a patron of Go Beyond, a charity that provides free respite breaks for disadvantaged and underprivileged children across the UK.

Winslet founded the Golden Hat Foundation, which brings awareness to the everyday struggles of individuals with autism, and how everyone else can help them in their education and socialization.

She has advocated for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Cardboard Citizens, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and PETA. She supports the Afghanistan Relief Organization and has also partnered with the Small Steps Project, a charity that brings much-needed materials, such as shoes, to children living in dumps throughout the world.

In 2017, she partnered with her Titanic co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the treatment of a young British mother, Gemma, with ovarian cancer. Gemma has since been pronounced cancer-free, and Winslet continues to check on her via text.

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