6 December, 2021

Stories from the front lines: “It’s raining in the attic but I don’t dare look”

Camille is 68 years old and lives in Belgium. When she is in bed and it’s raining, she can hear drops in the attic, but she doesn’t dare look. Her house contains mould, is badly insulated and in disrepair. The price of firewood and heating oil weigh heavily on her budget, and their cost is increasing.

She’s taken steps to change her situation: installing new windows with double glazing as well as insulation in the attic and other rooms. But too many obstacles stand in her way: the cost, the difficulty, and her limited time as she works different jobs. She knows she can’t afford a professional — and even if she could, she wouldn’t know where to start.

Camille feels very discouraged. Constantly keeping track of finances and looking for short-term solutions is stressful. On top of the physical toll of the cold and humidity, she feels exhausted and trapped. She also feels shame — which makes it hard to relax and enjoy her everyday life.

Camille got in touch with the RWADE network to share her story and break away  from shame and social stigma. Now she’s actively supporting efforts to bring about political change, creating standards that ensure decent living conditions and efficient homes for everyone.

In Belgium, one in five households lives in energy poverty, and skyrocketing energy prices are putting many more at risk. The Right to Energy coalition demands massive renovation programmes to provide warm homes for all and slash energy consumption, including specific support for the most vulnerable households.

The RWADE is a network of organisations and unions, working to guarantee the right to energy and decent housing for all in Belgium. You can follow them here.