Concern in Harrogate as soaring number of households struggle amid cost of living crisis

It’s just over a month since rising fuel bills started to kick in nationally but Harrogate volunteers are already seeing a surge in demand from households struggling to feed themselves.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 11:21 am
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 11:29 am

The growing impact of the cost of living crisis in Harrogate is already leading to a soaring need for food banks and deliveries.

And local volunteers are warning this is only the start of challenging times ahead for struggling households in the town.

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Resurrected Bites is a Harrogate and Knaresborough based community organisation aiming to reduce food waste and food poverty. Pictured here is their grocery base at Gracious Street Methodist Church.

New figures from Citizens Advice Mid-North Yorkshire show the numbers of people being referred to food banks between January and March 2021 and the same period in 2022 rose by 20% - before the energy price cap increase of 54% for approximately 22 million customers nationwide was introduced at the start of April.

But, despite the fact that the rise in fuel bills kicked in just more than a month ago, charities in Harrogate say they are already seeing changes in people’s behaviour over basic necessities.

Michelle Hayes, the founder of Resurrected Bites, a Harrogate and Knaresborough based community organisation aiming to reduce food waste and food poverty, said more people have been joining its New Park Community Grocery.

“We have seen an increase in people joining our grocery in recent weeks,” said the chief executive of Resurrected Bites. “People are most definitely feeling the pinch already and it’s only going to get worse the further in to the year ahead we go.”

Volunteer Sophia Clark, who manages New Park Grocery, added: “I have experienced a high influx of new customers since the energy bill rise”

In a sign of the desperate plight of people on low incomes even in affluent Harrogate, Resurrected Bites is also reporting on how individuals and families are scrambling to reduce their costs in any way they can - with quick-to-cook microwavable meals now a favoured option.

Carolyn Aitken, manager at its Gracious Street Grocery, said: “One thing I’ve noticed is how quickly ‘instant’ or foods that don’t need much cooking are going off the shelves, and customers don’t want to have to put the oven on. Microwaveable and stove top items are more in demand.

“I have also heard of customers turning off their heating and even lighting.”

Changes to the energy price cap introduced by Government regulator Ofgem mean those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will, potentially, see bills rise from £1,277 to £1,971 per year while prepayment customers will see an increase from £1,309 to £2,017.

How Resurrected Bites helps struggling households in Harrogate and Knaresborough

Resurrected Bites is a Harrogate and Knaresborough based community organisation aiming to reduce food waste and food poverty.

This local charity run entirely by volunteers works with local businesses to divert good quality food from landfill into meals for its cafes at West Park United Reformed Church in Harrogate and a Gracious Street Methodist Church in Knaresborough, as well as providing food to families through its community groceries scheme at West Park United Reformed Church in Harrogate and Gracious Street Methodist Church in Knaresborough.

For more information, visit: www. resurrectedbites.co.uk