Hannah Clay, Head of Grant Programmes, reflects on how Horsham and Sussex are being affected by rising living costs.
Two weeks ago, our e-news was devoted to the Cost of Living crisis. Yesterday, I heard more about the situation charities and community groups are facing now and the expected challenges ahead. In Horsham, sector leaders got together to discuss the very real and dramatic events that are unfolding across communities in Horsham, but equally applicable across Sussex and the rest of the country.
I heard how more people than ever before are approaching their local Citizens Advice and Debt Services to talk about their grave circumstances – with Bailiffs knocking on doors as people are unable to meet mounting living costs or are struggling with spiralling debts. It was said simply – that people cannot afford to live! This was the case during the pandemic but is especially true now – this includes many who have never needed help before and are struggling with the shame and fear that comes with not being able to make ends meet, despite working desperately hard in good jobs to support their families and loved ones.
These are not the conditions that any of us expected in 2022 and in many ways, people are now predicting a greater state of emergency in the coming months then we experienced during the pandemic. Emergency – rather than crisis, was the message of the day.
There was also a lot of references to the challenge in finding and securing volunteers to support local Samaritans and other key services that protect and help people when they need it most. Furthermore, how hard it is to expect people to give their time when they are struggling themselves to make ends meet. We heard from the largest organisations in the district – such as Age UK and Community Transport Sussex – right down to the smallest organisations offering food and advice. These organisations, like the people they support, are genuinely afraid that they may not survive beyond this year if things continue as predicted.
Although the message and warnings were dire, the sense of community amongst these committed sector leaders came across very strongly. They came together to talk about their shared purpose and desire for action as well as clearly showing their drive and commitment to get through this next chapter together.
We at Sussex Community Foundation are listening to these messages and want to respond in the most helpful and proactive way possible. We are currently looking at what we can do to help and to start this off, we gathered information about the cost of living crisis and sent out a cost of living survey. We have since published the summary survey results and in repsonse launched a cost of living appeal.
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Hannah Clay, Head of Grant Programmes