Suffolk supports you with the cost of living
By Councillor Bobby Bennett – Cabinet Member for Equality and Communities
With the current cost of living pressures affecting us all, it has never been more important to ensure that people are supported to receive the right help, when they need it. In Suffolk we have a number of support services ready to help you, your friends or your family, if you are struggling.
The Local Welfare Assistance Scheme helps those experiencing financial hardship, including access to items like household furniture and white goods, fuel vouchers for electricity and gas top-ups, supermarket vouchers, and contributions towards increasing costs during the winter months.
Local organisations across Suffolk can submit an application for support, on behalf of an individual or family. These organisations include Citizens Advice Bureau, district and borough councils, health services and voluntary organisations. A list of these organisations, who will assess your circumstances and submit an application for you, is available at www.suffolk.gov.uk/FinancialHardship
After the recent spell of warm weather it may feel a long way off now, but Autumn and Winter can be a time when energy and fuel costs rise. Suffolk's Warm Homes Healthy People is a project designed to help vulnerable people and families make their homes more energy efficient cheaper to heat. It can help you to access grants to help pay for insulation, basic draught proofing, or first-time central heating. It can also offer emergency support if you need it in the form of temporary heaters or support with emergency boiler repairs.
If high energy bills are preventing you from putting the heating on, or you know any friends, family or neighbours who need extra help heating their home, please contact Warm Homes Healthy People on 03456 037 686 or email email@example.com
There’s also a wealth of support in Suffolk for families with young children.
Healthy Start vouchers help parents of children under four years old, to access healthy food and milk. Through the county’s Tackling Poverty Strategy, we have been working with health visitors, and partners in the voluntary sector to support eligible families to take up the offer. We identified potential barriers to families accessing services, such as language barriers, and developed promotional materials to make the vouchers more accessible to families in need.
Since work began to promote the Healthy Start vouchers in November 2021 we've seen an 11% increase in those taking up the offer. The most recent data March 2022 shows 72% of those eligible are now taking up the offer.
You may be entitled to Healthy Start Vouchers if you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4. To check if you can apply or to find out more speak to your Midwife or Health Visitor or visit HealthyStart.nhs.uk
The Holiday Activities and Food programme, provides enriching activities to children and young people, as well as free meals during school holidays.
The programme launched in 2021 following a successful pilot in Suffolk in 2019 and 2020 and is backed by government funding of £200 million per year for the next three years.
In 2021, more than 44,800 meals were provided to children in Suffolk through the scheme and more than 48,400 face to face activity sessions took place. These Holiday club activities introduce young people to new experiences and skills, from dance and drama to cooking and gardening, as well providing opportunities for physical and social activity.
More than 33,700 offers of support were offered remotely to children who could not attend the clubs in person. These offers included activity booklets and food packs.
If your child is in receipt of Free School Meals, you may be entitled to support during future school holidays, speak to your school to find out more.
Suffolk County Council recently published its Tackling Poverty Strategy and action plan. The strategy, which has been coproduced with District, Borough and Voluntary Sector partners, along with people with lived experience of poverty, pulls together the many strands of work that have been helping people for many months, as well as looking to the future. You can view the strategy and action plan at: www.suffolk.gov.uk/poverty
Tackling poverty is a system-wide challenge and as such, the work of the Poverty Strategy will report into the Health and Wellbeing Board and Suffolk Public Sector Leaders and Suffolk’s Collaborative Communities Board. Suffolk Public Sector Leaders have provided £1 million in hardship funding to support this work.
I want to say a huge thank you to the voluntary community and people who came forward to tell us their stories, which helped us to develop the Strategy and Action Plan.
Finally, if you are struggling or know someone who is, then please look into what help is available.
Visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/FinancialHardship where you can find a list of the support services in Suffolk.