By Bev Haigh-Jones
Christmas may be over for another year, but the financial pressure on low-income families is not. With food prices continuing to increase daily and energy prices at an all-time high, those who were struggling six months ago are now even more desperate.
The BBC have provided some really useful information on support packages that are available in certain circumstances. The criteria can vary from area to area, so it is worth discussing your particular situation with an organisation such as Citizens’ Advice, but more information and links to relevant sites can be found here.
It isn’t just food and energy, of course, families with children will be struggling to buy the necessary clothes, school uniforms, shoes and even fundamentals such as schoolbooks and equipment.
Fortunately for those in need, the number of food banks, community kitchens and clothing banks has increased significantly. Figures provided by The Trussell Trust last year suggested that the need for this service has increased by 81% over the last five years, and that figure will no doubt be even higher now that inflation is still increasing and many more working families, not just those on benefits, now find themselves relying on these services.
Another problem, of course, is that although food banks have been operating well in the past, they are now being hit by a “double whammy”. Not only is the call on their services increasing dramatically, but because of the soaring cost of living, fewer people are contributing, or donating, meaning that they are struggling to meet the needs of those who are having to rely on them.
Apart from the Trussell Trust, many other organisations offering help with food, or clothing and school uniforms are also listed on the Support in Cornwall website shown below, but more may well exist. This site also provides information on free school meals.
Other sites which may be of interest are shown below. These offer a range of services including food, clothing, uniforms and even in home family support for those in need.
Care and support in Cornwall, an organisation offering family support in a variety of ways, has compiled a very comprehensive list of agencies offering cheaper school uniforms, as well as advice on the matter.
Start clothing bank, crafty chat and swap shop in St Austell offer free uniforms when available, as well as children’s and adult’s clothing, bedding, toiletries, etc.
The Clothes Horse in Newquay offers free children’s clothes, which may sometimes include uniforms.
Remake Cornwall in St Austell has off-the-shelf items including clothing at very low prices, plus they operate a regular community larder.
Daisy Dukes in St Austell helps those in need, including the homeless, by providing free clothes, food, sleeping bags and tents.
The Trussell Trust operate food banks across the country, Cornwall included. Their website offers a search facility to find the nearest one to you.
STAK, the St Austell Community Kitchen offer hot food to the vulnerable, needy and homeless. Prices range from FOC to £1.50 for a three-course meal. They also offer free information, advice and guidance for those who may be struggling with debt, benefits, or homelessness, etc.
Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C) in Redruth, offer a range of services including parenting programmes, play, community development to name a few, plus they run a community larder on Fridays.
If you are lucky enough not to need the services we have listed, please help by providing them with donations, or support if you are in a position to do so. We are sure that the food banks and kitchens would be grateful for any help that you might be able to offer, if not by donating, then perhaps by volunteering. IF YOU CAN HELP IN ANY WAY, PLEASE DO!
If you yourself are in need, then we hope that this information may be of help to you.
If you are involved with a community group, or just know of one which deserves to be featured, please let us know and we will try to include it in a future edition.