12 Apr UNITED, WE CAN BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN HELPING EACH OTHER
By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
The Bay was busy last weekend as tourists returned in their droves, much to the relief of many businesses who have struggled through the first few months of the year.
It is not just individuals who are suffering from the cost of the living crisis; organisations, groups and employers have been feeling the squeeze none more so than in the charity and voluntary sector.
It is the latter that is often overlooked when considering the effects of an economic crisis, but as rising costs and falling revenues hit enterprises hard, it is the people behind them and those that work for them that feel the true impact.
That is why the charity and voluntary sector needs to work alongside the statutory sector and businesses for the good of everyone in the Bay. None can stand alone and all are inter reliant.
Any boost for our main employer, tourism, ultimately trickles down to supporting people and communities in all three towns across the Bay but by the same token pressure on that industry can devastate individuals and families.
Every time there is a downturn, we can see it in the number of calls being made to the Torbay Community Helpline. Economic indicators go down and calls to the Helpline go up. A simple but sad fact.
Initially, when we came out of COVID, business in the Bay boomed as people sought to get away from their hometowns but were still reluctant to get back onto planes and chose to holiday in the UK, but as coronavrius becomes a distant memory for most of us, that boost is on the wane.
This year things will settle further before we get a clearer picture of how things will pan out in the future, albeit that some of the real effects are clouded by an unprecedented cost of living crisis which has left family coffers empty and more people slipping into poverty.
Things were bad enough here in the Bay before COVID, as recent figures showed only too clearly, with six out of the top ten poorest areas in Devon being here in the Bay.
Furthermore, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is enormous, with Churston and Galmpton coming out on top with average earnings of £28,700 with central Paignton, the lowest at £23,700.
Not surprising then that calls to the Helpline remain high with some families unable to put food on the table and being forced instead to turn to the Foodbanks to feed their families.
Similarly, some people are falling into poverty for the first time, and it does not follow that those who need help are unemployed; plenty of working people and professionals have found themselves unable, through no fault of their own, to pay their bills.
The Helpline cannot provide the money to meet the shortfalls, but it can provide invaluable advice and support to ensure everyone who calls is getting their full entitlements and have access to financial advisers.
Here at the Torbay Community Development Trust, we believe that only now are we starting to see the full negative impact of COVID as families and individuals battered by misfortune reach a point where all other channels of help and support are exhausted.
Mental health is suffering across the board, and calls to the Helpline continue to increase as people’s resilience that has got them this far crumbles and they need to make that first cry for help. And then there are those that are reaching out repeatedly to get the long-term help that they need.
We all live complex lives; some of us have been lucky and have been able to ride the storm even managing to stay ahead of the game despite all that life has thrown at us – COVID, the cost of living crisis and raging inflation to name but a few.
We do not know what the rest of the year will bring and whether the tourists will continue to come back to spend their money on our local businesses, supporting communities in the Bay, but we do know that if things continue as they are then the Helpline will continue to be busy.
If you need help or can offer help volunteering for the Helpline, call 01803 446022. One call, that’s all. We can’t promise the world, but we can promise there will be no judgement as we help and support you, no matter what you need.
Unity photo courtesy of Freepik.com