How much should living cost us? Not little luxuries and holidays, not our hobbies and interests, but the essentials we need to simply survive. For many people across this country the very basic necessities for life – food, clothing, warmth and a home of our own – are increasingly out of reach with little hope for change.
The cost-of-living crisis has been a topic of much discussion over recent months with the cost of fuel, food and essentials rapidly rising. Almost everyone is watching their spending a little more closely, or reconsidering purchases they might have thought little of a couple of years ago. Many people however, are unaware of the terrible impact for the poorest in our society, or the sheer scale of the problems to come.
According to a recent YouGov study, 6.8 million adults in Britain have had to cut back or miss out entirely on meals in recent months because they were unable to access food; that accounts for around 14% of UK households. It is not just adults affected by this terrible statistic either; teachers report children hoarding food from their free school dinners because they know there will be little to eat once they get home. Some children have taken food simply to pass on to their parents, who have skipped meals in order to keep their children fed.
Meanwhile, more than half of UK homes have reduced the amount of gas and electricity they consume out of concern for rising costs. When temperatures begin to drop this winter, this will inevitably cost lives as elderly or vulnerable people are unable to heat their homes enough to keep them fit and well. Inflation has now hit a 40 year high, and many of those living on the breadline have slipped below it, leaving 14.5 million people living in relative poverty. This is particularly dire for those living on fixed incomes, like those who are retired or receiving benefits.
At Church Homeless Trust, we see first-hand the effect of rising costs on vulnerable people:
Natalie was a victim of terrible domestic violence, and turned to alcohol and eventually drugs to cope. Now she is in a safer situation and in recovery in a flat of her own, but the rising price of price of gas and electricity – combined with a faulty meter and an unhelpful provider – had left her in financial hardship. Having so recently been homeless, Natalie could not cope with the unexpected bill and was faced with having to choose between heating and eating. The stress was making it even harder to adjust. Thankfully on this occasion, CHT could help.
“It has taken away all my new home stress and really helped improve my mental health since I was awarded the grant.”
We are proud of the people your donations help to support, but charities like ourselves simply cannot support every person in need. Without urgent intervention from government, countless people with stories like Natalie’s will slip through the cracks, many of them into desperate situations and homelessness. In the mean time, we will continue to help as many people as possible to rebuild their lives.