At a time when everyone is feeling the effects of the current economic uncertainty, those living in less financially secure circumstances are experiencing an even greater challenge to cover the costs of day-to-day living and household essentials. Whether this is caused by systemic issues, ill health, insecure employment, or a change in personal circumstances; there are so many reasons why people fall on challenging times, and with increasing living costs this will only serve to intensify the issue, trapping some people into a cycle of debt.
According to national statistics, around 14.4 million people were living in poverty in the UK in 2021/2022. Move forward to 2023 the cost-of-living crisis is now taking its toll on families up and down the country, with demand for food parcels soaring. Bath is a beautiful city, but beneath its rosy veneer are sections of the community that are facing a daily struggle to get by and put food on the table. In the 2022 Strategic Evidence Base report for Bath and North East Somerset Council it estimated there would be an increase of up to4,000 more people who will fall into absolute poverty this year, including 1,500 children.
Much like in other locations, poverty across BaNES is a complex and often entrenched issue, stemming from multiple causes, therefore the provision of a variety of support services is vital is supporting our communities.
St John’s provides support through our Crisis Programme, which sits alongside the work delivered through the Foundation Fund, offering financial aid to individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet. It aims to fulfil the most essential needs, such as providing white goods, furniture, counselling, and debt support. The programme also offers basic skills training to people who are struggling to access training or education opportunities, to help them gain secure employment and escape poverty.
An example of how the programme was able to support a family experiencing extremely challenging circumstances due to domestic abuse, is set out below:
A parent with two children had to move quickly to escape domestic abuse, fleeing with only minimal furniture and without the children’s belongings. An application was made to St John’s by the children’s primary school for new furniture, which included a desk for the eldest child to do their homework and a new bike, as this had to be left behind. The school reported that this support was invaluable for the family and helped them all to settle and create a new safe homely environment of fun and happiness, providing the children with items that all children should have.
Support from the St John’s Crisis Programme can be accessed through a referral from charities or other referral organisations we have partnered with. The full list can be found here.
Once an application has been submitted via the referral organisation, the team are able to move quickly. Their aim is to respond within five working days. However, if the case is urgent and potentially life-threatening then a decision can be reached within hours. Once an application has been agreed for support the team will contact the referrer, and then put into motion the paying of relevant suppliers, the clearing of debts or organising the delivery of goods.
To be eligible for support, the individual or family must be living within Bath and North East Somerset with a monthly disposable income of less than £250 for a household with no dependent children, £275 for a household with up to two dependent children, or £300 for a household with three or more dependent children.
Through the Foundation Fund we also distribute funds on behalf of the Roxburgh Trust, a registered charity created by Lady Arabella Roxburgh in the late 1890s, and now administered by St John’s. It is available to single women living in BaNES who are over the age of 50 and are living in challenging financial circumstances. A payment of £200 is released to beneficiaries once a year for their lifetime unless their personal circumstances change significantly.
If you would like further information on the Crisis Programme or to talk about your situation before applying, please call 01225 486400 or email email@example.com.