This post originally featured at A Day In The Life of Northampton Jesus Centre, a blog run by Northampton Jesus Centre’s volunteer coordinator.
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.
One 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.
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.
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.
For more information on these and other of our groups check out http://www.jesus.org.uk/northamptonjesuscentre or call in and register at our Info Desk.