07 Sep HELP IS ON HAND
By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
It has started. The much-predicted meltdown among families and individuals struggling to make ends meet.
Costs are spiralling with inflation rising at 10.10% and adding expense to bills across the board from food, clothing and household essentials.
Fuel and energy bills have their own upward trajectory, with bills dropping onto doormats that are already unaffordable. That is before the real increases hit, just in time for the lower temperatures.
We have a good idea of how we got here and can blame any factors, from the war in the Ukraine, supply issues and other things beyond our control, but whose fault remains neither here nor there; it is now our problem.
It is hitting everyone across the board, but it is, of course, much harder for some than others and the ability to cope ranges from not at all to barely, to yes, but something else has to go.
At the bottom end of the economic scale, people cannot work out how they are going to get through the winter, keeping food on the table and enough heating to keep everyone warm and dry.
Hundreds if not thousands of people across the Bay are facing their worst winter ever and are worried about their very survival.
The Torbay Community Development Trust team is looking at how we and other charitable and voluntary agencies across the Bay can help. We are open to constructive suggestions from anyone.
Our Community Builders are endeavouring to identify the most vulnerable and, where possible, organise streets and neighbourhoods into Good Neighbour Schemes to ensure everyone is looking out for and supporting each other.
Our Torbay Community Helpline is, of course, just a phone call away when you are struggling or do not know where to turn and our call handlers can help point you in the right direction to get help no matter what your problem.
Last week, the Helpline was inundated as people realise that their belts could never be tightened enough to meet the unprecedented costs of life’s essentials – food and warmth.
We do not have all the answers and will struggle to fill all the gaps, but callers are often pleasantly surprised by the available support and the empathetic way their issues are dealt with.
For now, we are dealing with practical solutions, but there is much more we can all do together. We can check in with our neighbours, but we can also organise get-togethers regularly so that heating costs can be shared.
Making food on a large scale can often bring the costs down for everyone and a hearty soup can go a long way when shared with friends and neighbours. Perhaps invite each other round for Sunday lunch saving on food and heating costs?
Community centres, cafes and other meeting places are a considerably cheaper way of keeping warm than heating your whole house or even one room in your home. If you can get to Torquay pop down to the Community Helpline Café and Hub in Temperance Street, where you are guaranteed a warm welcome and food at bargain prices.
We are considering more of our Big Exchange events where we will encourage people to bring along warm clothing that is no longer needed and is taking up space at the back of a cupboard.
Failing that now would be a good time to clear out unused woollies, jackets, hats, scarves, gloves and blankets and get them down your favourite charity shop to ensure they find a much-needed new home.
Very few reading this will not be suffering from the cost of living crisis, which is slated to get much worse before it gets better. Like COVID, we are all in this together and must fight back together. Not to put too fine a point on it, lives are at stake.
Setting up a Good Neighbour scheme in your community is a good starting point, and discussions with your friends and neighbours are part of the solution.
If you want to be your street’s Good Neighbour, please go to bit.ly/goodneighbourtorbay or call the Helpline on 01803 446022. If you need support, call the Helpline or drop into the recently launched Paignton Library community hub.
Hands with wooden people photo courtesy of Freepik.com