24 Aug YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS COST OF LIVING CRISIS
By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
You can’t beat a bit of sunshine and good weather to chase away the blues.
It even applies to the stresses and strains currently being exacerbated by the cost of living crisis biting hard into the finances of families and individuals across the Bay.
Many already had deeply ingrained problems before energy and food prices started to go through the roof, as shown only too clearly in rampant inflation figures of more than ten per cent.
Bills dropping through the letterbox combined with a break in the sunshine sent many people scurrying back to their phones and ringing the Torbay Community Helpline, desperately seeking answers to seemingly insoluble problems.
Once it rained, our phones started ringing constantly, and in the space of a few hours, we took calls from people with varying challenges, but almost all caused by the same issues, spiralling prices and empty pockets, with nothing to fall back on.
On one day last week, we took 167 calls – way more than at the height of the pandemic when people were panicking for different reasons and nearly twice as many as on the same day the previous week.
It is not just the sun that changes moods and relieves stress, we are also now a few weeks into the school holidays, and the food vouchers handed out at the beginning have run out much quicker than usual.
It even depends on which supermarket families choose, with the prices of some basic food staples going up quicker at some supermarkets than at others.
And it is not just the temperatures that have been rising; the stress is beginning to show in flaring tempers and abuse – ironically aimed at those on the front line who are trying to help.
Our call handlers are reporting distressing conversations that are often abusive and foodbanks staff are dealing with the same, only face to face. We all react badly to stress and food poverty is by far one of the most stressful, but on behalf of those trying to help, please think before you launch.
None of our volunteers demand thanks or plaudits for what they do, but neither do they want to face a barrage of insults, threats and obscene language for doing everything they can to provide support and advice.
We get it. Times are bad and will get worse for most people before it gets better, and some people will be destitute in the true meaning of the word this winter.
But so many agencies, charities and voluntary organisations are doing all they can to help where they can, and it does not matter what the problem is; a call to 01803 446022 will result in a friendly, caring voice pointing you in the direction of anything and everything that is available to you.
You are not alone, though when you are facing eviction by your private landlord who wants to either take advantage of rising rents or property prices, it must feel like that, particularly if that has been your home for many years.
You are not alone when you stand in line at your local supermarket and ask the cashier to stop putting items through when the total reaches a predetermined amount beyond which you cannot afford.
You are not alone in feeling that you are at the end of your tether, your brain is racing fit to burst, and you no longer recognise some of your own thoughts and actions, and there are counsellors ready to listen to you and tell you that what you feel is not so very wrong.
Nor are you alone in worrying that you can no longer pay the rent, the mortgage, the electricity or gas bill, and you cannot afford to replace the children’s shoes for the new school term, and you cannot afford to put enough food onto the dinner table.
There is help available for all these things, though we are not miracle workers (though some people have suggested we might be from time to time) and it may take a while to help you rearrange that tangled web, but we are here for you.
The first step is the hardest, pick up the phone and make that call 01803 446022. And please be patient. Our volunteers and call handlers are enjoying the sunshine too and some are on much-needed holidays.
Couple viewing bills photo courtesy of Freepik.com