Double-digit inflation means heat and light are luxuries for struggling Derry grandmother

Grandmother Ellen Moore will often sit in the dark rather than turning on the lights, and putting on the central heating is a no-no.

She won't do without her warming cup of tea, but to save money she fills a flask with boiling water. It avoids boiling the kettle more than once.

The Londonderry pensioner lives on a single person's pension and she knows all about getting a meagre budget to stretch a little further.

Now, the stretch is too much.

"A tub of butter used to be £3.99, now it's £5, and your milk would have been 99p and now it's £1.99," she says.

"Things aren't going up by a penny or two, they're going up by a pound or more than a pound, and every time you think they can't get any higher you go out again the next week and the prices have gone up again."

Ellen never used to wear her glasses when she went shopping.

"Now I won't go shopping without my reading glasses, and I keep them on all the way round to make sure I can check every price," she says.

This is the reality of double-digit inflation, with food prices helping to push the figure to 11.1%. The last time inflation was that high was more than 40 years ago.

And lower-earning households are getting hit hard. In real terms, families on lower incomes are seeing food prices in the shops rise by more than 16%.

It's clear that many families are under pressure, and financial hardship can impact on health.

As it becomes increasingly expensive to put healthy meals on the table, the Soil Association is working with community groups to put on classes that teach healthy eating on a budget.

Nutritionist Jade Bradley delivers one of these 'Cook and Share' classes.

She says: "I can see how food has an impact on health and wellbeing, physically and mentally. We need to have this kind of food education where we can show people how to use low-cost ingredients and make them go further."

Allan Bogle was one of her eager students.

"We talk about people having the right to fresh water and clean air, but we don't often talk about the right that people have to eat healthy food," he says.

And classmate Patricia Kelly says rising inflation is making it vital to watch prices, adding: "When I go shopping all I see are scary numbers because everything's on the up."

But the upward spike in costs isn't just hitting households. It's hurting business too - with food prices hammering the hospitality sector.

Declan Moore runs a cafe in the centre of Derry and he says he's never known the business climate so tough.

He says: "You ask anyone in this business and they'll tell you it's devastating. When I asked one of my suppliers several months ago he said everything has gone up, and it's not like five or 10%, it's 20%."

Declan's trying to avoid passing on rising food costs to his customers but he says: "If things keep going like this it's inevitable that we'll have to pass it on."

Christmas may be coming, but there's little sign of cheer, and for struggling pensioners like Ellen Moore inflation is likely to keep taking a bite out of her purse for many months to come.

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