Cost of Living Crisis – working collectively

Through my job I attend numerous partnership meetings.

Two that have stood out recently are the Copeland Food and Finance Hardship Group and Allerdale Resilience Group. At both of these meetings it really struck me how severe the cost of living crisis is, and for a rapidly growing number of people too, many of whom will have never struggled financially before.

Not only are individuals suffering, so too are some of the organisastions that support these people – stretched beyond capacity, at risk of becoming burned out and struggling to gain funding so that they can deliver their vital services.

Many households are having to choose between food and fuel. And what if you can’t afford the fuel to cook the food? Unfortunately, this situation is the reality for too many people. Families who rely on food pantries are turning down items like potatoes because they can’t afford the fuel to cook them.

In April, the Child Poverty Forum West Cumbria published a briefing paper on The Cost of Living Crisis in West Cumbria. “This briefing gives an overview of the emerging situation in West Cumbria and how it is not only impacting on families, but also the grassroots and statutory services who are struggling to support those facing hardship.” Although specific to West Cumbria, the situation will be similar across the rest of Cumbria.

You may have seen on the news recently that the national charity Leonard Cheshire (which supports people with disabilities to live, learn and work as independently as they choose whatever their ability) is running a campaign called ‘Could you survive on a tenner?’ Over 600,000 disabled people have to live on £10 a week, and it’s not just disabled people who are living in such extreme poverty. I know that I could not live on a tenner a week, and I find it heart-breaking that in 2022 people in the UK are living in such extreme poverty. To show your support to the (disabled) community please sign up to Leonard Cheshire’s campaign.

So, what can we do in Cumbria to help tackle the cost of living crisis? In order to make a difference we (voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise organisations; public; and private sector) need to continue to work together operationally and strategically. We need to be able plan for the long-term, and have funding and resources (including more staff) that enables us to do this, and not just rely on short-term funding that the Government keeps dishing out.

Please consider if your organisation is accessible to those on low incomes or if you might be inadvertently excluding people. Think about ways you could make your service more accessible, e.g. a Scout Group has recently offered help with costs of uniforms, and camp activities for those families on low incomes.

What could your organisation do? Could you support people with travel costs, could people access your services digitally so that they don’t need to travel? We would love to know what you are doing, or plan to do, do make your services more inclusive.

Bridget JohnsBridget Johns 
District Manager (West)
Cumbria CVS