OPINION: Local organisations are ready to help those who are struggling - Karen Weaver, Harrogate and District Community Action
It’s no accident that the Harrogate and District Community Action (HADCA) online directory of community organisations is called ‘Where to Turn’, providing information on the extensive network of voluntary groups and charities at the ready to help local residents (available via www.hadca.org.uk).
As we head into winter the local voluntary sector is working harder than ever with our public sector partners to ensure that people do not have to face a choice between eating and heating their home.
The combined effect of rising energy and fuel prices, the cut to Universal Credit and the end of furlough has undoubtedly resulted in a very tough financial climate for many.
So this month I’m providing details of local support to be shared with anyone you know who may be struggling.
Firstly there is the Warm and Well North Yorkshire partnership, led by Citizens Advice, which offers free practical support. Their aim is to reduce the detrimental impact that cold homes can have on health and wellbeing by supporting people to stay warm and well:
• Advice on how to save money on energy costs and grants available, such as the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme which offers qualifying residents a £140 grant towards their electricity bill.
• Information on the Priority Services Register, a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations
• Home assessments to advise on energy saving and how to make homes more energy efficient, or help with minor repairs
• Access to a hardship fund for those most in need
Help is available to anyone who is struggling to afford their energy bills or worried about how to heat their home, to families with young children, those on low incomes or benefits or anyone with physical or mental health issues.
Residents can get in touch themselves or relatives can contact Warm and Well North Yorkshire on family members’ behalf. More details at www.warmandwell.org.uk or call on 01609 767555.
Secondly, for those running short of food, there is a network of foodbanks operating across the district, ready to offer food parcels and support for people with a referral to them. Harrogate, Starbeck and Knaresborough Foodbanks [email protected] Ripon, Boroughbridge and Masham Foodbank [email protected], 07486 458963. Nidderdale Foodbank [email protected], 01423 714953.
Resurrected Bites is a Harrogate and Knaresborough based community organisation aiming to reduce food waste and food poverty. Their ‘pay as you feel’ cafes offer affordable meals and they also run shops on the same basis during the café sessions. They’ve recently opened a community grocery at New Park which operates on a subscription scheme and gives people on a low income access to food at a fraction of supermarket prices. A second community grocery is due to open at its Gracious Street Methodist Church base next month. Full details are available from their website www.resurrectedbites.co.uk. Hot meals and food parcels are also available from St Peter’s Church, Harrogate [email protected] and from Boroughbridge Community Care [email protected], 01423 324504.
There are many more sources of help and a good starting point to find information about support services is our Harrogate Easier Living Project’s free information and signposting service for Harrogate [email protected], 04123 813090 and Ripon [email protected], 01765 645902.
The key message is that if you or people you know are struggling, there are friendly local organisations who are ready to help.