Post office and meal vouchers, food bank support and warm spaces are just some of the ways that residents will be supported this winter as the temperatures drop and the cost of living rises.

Yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) Cost of Living summit, attended by council leaders and representatives from the voluntary and community sector in Torbay, heard that £1.2m has been allocated to the Bay as part of the Household Support Fund.

This money will be apportioned in a variety of ways so that as many households as possible are assisted during the coming months.

It comes as our community partners reveal they’ve had more calls from older people who have never had to ask for help before now needing support with food as pensions are not covering basic living expenses.

Calls for assistance to the Torbay Community Helpline increased by 21% from July to August.

A Devon Food Insecurity report identified there are twice as many households with children experiencing very low food security that are not receiving free school meals (11%) as there are receiving free meals (5%).

Money from the Household Support Fund will be spent on:

  • Christmas holiday meal vouchers for children on free school meals
  • Vouchers handed out through Children’s Hubs for pre-school aged children
  • Warm Spaces in community settings
  • Supporting food providers through the Torbay Food Alliance
  • Support to low-income households who missed out on the £650 cost of living payment
  • Support to people on pension credit
  • the Welfare Support Scheme for those who need help paying fuel bills
  • Vouchers given to community partners to distribute directly to residents

The summit also saw the launch of the first of a series of videos we have helped to fund alongside Healthwatch, the Torbay Community Development Trust and the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The videos show practical and simple ways to save money on fuel, food and general living costs over the coming months.

We also unveiled our Warm Spaces Charter which sets out what people can expect when they visit a warm space. For example, they won’t be asked why they are visiting, and their anonymity will be assured.

It’s expected Warm Spaces will be situated in community venues throughout Torbay.

Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “We understand there can be a stigma about accepting help, but this crisis will affect everyone in some way or another.

“We’re working through the detail of how the Household Support Fund will be spent but, in the meantime, I’d urge anyone with concerns about paying bills to get in touch sooner rather than later. Support is out there for those who need it.”

Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of Torbay Council, said: “This summit provided the opportunity for stakeholders and partners to come together and gain a wider understanding of the immense challenges so many people in our community are facing now, with worse to come.

“Torbay is in a strong position due to the focus on developing strong and sustained partnerships – with the key focus on those residents in need.”

For information about what help is available, visit our Cost of Living page,  where you can also watch the first video, Feeding People on a Budget.

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