Government intervention to support households and charitable organisations with energy costs is welcomed, though immense pressure remains, particularly for those on low incomes, isolated older people, and people struggling with their mental health.
The Community Foundation for Merseyside actively listens to our communities and understands their needs. Food banks are working flat out, and community centres and churches are providing warm hubs through the winter. Debt advice charities, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, are reporting extremely high numbers of support requests, and mental health charities and GPs are forecasting a huge increase in mental health crises and suicide rates.
The impact this has on charities and community organisations in Merseyside cannot be underestimated. Staff and volunteer resources are being stretched to try to meet demand, and to provide help in such challenging times many are looking to increase the level of support they offer, even extending their opening times to provide a place of warmth for the most vulnerable.
What are we doing?
Recognising the pressures that our community organisations are facing, we are being flexible with core costs for our existing grant holders and supporting requests where a higher proportion of funding towards energy, staffing and volunteer costs may be needed. We fully acknowledge this will also be the case with any new funding requests we receive, and encourage the donors and decision-makers we work with to take this into consideration and give priority to services and projects directly meeting cost of living needs. We are also reviewing our portfolio of grant programmes to see where additional funding could help boost our ability to support more of the funding applications that we receive.
What are UKCF doing? Our network body UK Community Foundations has been part of a cost of living joint statement with nearly 50 other sector bodies, which called upon Government to include charities and voluntary organisations in its support plan for businesses which can be viewed here.