Archive | March 2013

Eating well when the chips are down

This post originally featured at A Day In The Life of Northampton Jesus Centre, a blog run by Northampton Jesus Centre’s volunteer coordinator.

Worried over billsIt’s not difficult to notice that there’s a real squeeze on people’s finances at the moment.

Every time I fill up the car with petrol it seems to cost a little bit more. The media carries stories hi-lighting the impact of Fuel Poverty, changes to housing benefit & council tax benefit, meaning some people are having to move to down size their accommodation or face additional rent & council tax payments. Universal credit and PIP will mean changes in who can receive certain benefits and the amount some people receive; the increasing use of Food Banks highlights the level to which some people are already struggling.

Struggling under debtOne young woman came in the other day. in her own words “she wouldn’t normally ask for help”, but she appeared to have tried everywhere else. She illustrated to me the way that the current economic and employment climate is impacting on a wider range of people than usually. Normally, in work, she was between jobs and waiting for her JSA claim to start and due to the abnormally severe weather was about to run out of money for the electric meter. Her energy supplier was sympathetic but couldn’t help. Her daughter was 6 years old, insulin dependent, needed her medication stored in a fridge, was there anything we could do to help?

Or the middle-aged woman who is having to move home, from the flat she loves, or face paying the extra £56 from her JSA to cover her 2nd bedroom that will no longer be covered by Housing benefit.

Man in a lounge looking out the windowOr the older man, who told one of our helpers that he’d got to decide whether to buy food for the next week or put money in the electric meter.

Here at the Jesus Centre we are trying to respond and prepare for the impact of the benefit changes by ensuring our groups and services are able to respond to these needs.

Burning moneyWe already run Money Worries- a weekly service that gives people debt advice, negotiates debt re-payments and gives advice on budgeting.

We are in the middle of our 5 week Money Course which includes an additional week on how to save money on your fuel bills.

Later in the year we intend to launch a new service Keep Warm- where, (subject to funding) we hope to be able to offer people small grants to help with energy-saving measures and advice on choosing the best tariff for their energy usage to keep their bills down.

We are becoming a Food Bank distribution point and continue to offer free drinks, a shower and laundry facilities to those in need in our Step Up scheme.

In addition we offer a number of groups that can provide support and increase people’s Wellbeing by supporting in a relaxed, informal environment and opportunities to make friends.

Happy fruit bowl faceBasic Cooking – which will include how to cook on a budget starts in mid April. Eat Well- lose weight- will show you how eating right & staying healthy need not cost the earth.

For more information on these and other of our groups check out or call in and register at our Info Desk.

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