MANY STILL FIGHTING TO HELP DESPITE FINANCIAL PRESSURES

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

 

TORBAY is famous for many things its amazing topography and clement weather are to be envied, but there are other aspects that we could all do without.

Barely a month goes by without something being written, which puts Torbay near the top of a table of areas of deprivation, declining mental health, poverty, children in care, unemployment or the effects of the cost of living crisis.

It is an area of contrasts with wealth living cheek by jowl with poverty and a well above average ageing population, which puts pressure on statutory services such as the NHS and Torbay Council as well as charities and voluntary organisations.

An army of charitable and voluntary groups across the Bay are working alongside teams from statutory services in a bid to help redress the imbalance and alleviate some of the worst effects of the negative factors.

But it is a battle that is becoming ever harder as the purse strings are pulled ever tighter, and the cost of living crisis takes its toll not just on clients but on the very charities that exist to help them.

The most recent census data shows when looking at education, employment, health and housing that overall 51.7% of all households in England and Wales were deprived in at least one of those areas. Torbay came in at 57.9%

Hard work put in by all agencies, often working together, has reduced the figures in the ten years since the previous census, but there is still a great deal of work to be done and it needs a concerted effort from everyone.

Politicians will argue forever about who may be to blame and each has their own solution, but the majority of people working to tackle the problems have no political axe to grind, they are too busy working on the frontline with people who need them more today than ever before.

So many charities and voluntary bodies rely on grants or donations from people who are grateful for the help they have received. Again, during a cost of living crisis, grants become harder to come by and donations are squeezed.

Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT) is one such organisation that relies on the generosity of its funders to keep delivering its many strands of work, all concentrated on those that need it most.

The Torbay Community Helpline is at the core of much that TCDT does and is the starting point for anyone that needs help. It is the one-stop shop for access to advice, information or referral to a whole range of support in the community and beyond.

The Helpline on 01803 446022 is staffed by a mixture of volunteers and paid staff and over the last three years has become the source of information – one call that’s all – for anyone who needs support.

Many people mistake it for a statutory service and whilst the NHS and the council do help fund it, it is a service provided by TCDT only with the help of grants and donations from our generous funders.

Without the Helpline, it would be so much harder to access help and support with benefits, debt and finance, housing issues, wellbeing, mental health, domestic abuse and food banks, to name but a few.

It is also the place to go to volunteer. As the funding screw continues to tighten charities and voluntary organisations in the Bay are crying out for help delivering their work and as a result, the opportunities are as varied as they are numerous.

During COVID, we saw unprecedented numbers of volunteers come forward to help and support neighbours, friends and the wider community. The cost of living crisis, whilst less visible is no less of a trauma for tens of thousands of people in Torbay.

Fortunately for many, the weather this Winter has been relatively good, which means the more brutal effects of the cost of living crisis have been avoided such as making the choice between putting food on the table or putting the heating on. But that is not to say that people are not suffering. They are, and many more are being pushed into deprivation and poverty.

A recent report, produced to mark The Year of the Coast 2023, which featured statistics and information from our Bay, was called ‘Communities on the edge’. The title says it all.

To offer help – financially or as a volunteer, call the Helpline on 01803 446022, fill in the online form at bit.ly/torbayhelpline or for any donations, click the donate button on our website.

Teamwork photo courtesy of Freepik.com

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