The need in Leicestershire
Leicestershire has already been struggling to tackle poverty before the current coronavirus outbreak. Years of austerity combined with insecure employment mean an estimated 43,677 children in Leicestershire are living below the poverty line even though the vast majority – 30,866 of them – have at least one parent who has a job.
The figures are based on data that is about a year old - it is expected that coronavirus has already made the situation much worse.
We have kept our door open during the crisis providing face to face support (whilst adhering to social distancing guidelines) to ensure that no-one was excluded from support or isolated because they didn't have access to a computer or no credit on their phone.
We have seen a 37% increase in calls from women experiencing domestic abuse and a 45% increase in people seeking emergency food, gas and electricity top-ups and help to claim eligible benefits. In the past few weeks the need has moved on to include support for now unaffordable bills and debt and most concerning of all rent arrears. Although evictions are in abeyance this is likely to change in July.
We already provide support to the most disadvantaged but since Covid-19 we have seen a totally new type of beneficiary. Individuals who have always worked, had a steady income but often in low paid jobs affording them the ability to pay their priority bills but without sufficient income to build up any savings to withstand the current crisis. They are struggling to navigate the benefit system, understand what grants and help they can access, how to reduce their household bills quickly and deal with what is now unaffordable debt. We want to extend provision & opening hours to support them.
Our project will provide desperately needed holistic support to people who have seen they income decrease or cease due to Covid-19 & are struggling to cope with resulting financial problems.
Core support will comprise: income maximisation checks, help to claim eligible benefits, benefits advocacy, help to prevent homelessness, debt management, budgeting, energy efficiency measures, help to reduce household bills and apply for eligible grants.
Emergency food &, gas & electric top-ups will be provided to ensure that all beneficiaries have enough food, ability to store/cook food, charge phones & stay warm.
How we will use the money raised
Funds will be used to fund a advice worker to deliver outreach support to communities in Leicester & Leicestershire where no support is available.