Individuals grappling with the challenges posed by the rising cost of living will soon find additional assistance available to them. The second phase of the Calderdale Cost of Living Fund has now commenced, offering an opportunity for local community, voluntary, and faith-based organisations to seek grants aimed at aiding residents during this trying period.

With a total value exceeding £500,000, this fund is the result of contributions from various entities including Calderdale Council, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, the Community Foundation for Calderdale, and the Department for Work and Pensions’ Household Support Fund.

Each eligible organisation has the chance to secure grants of up to £10,000. These funds are intended to address emergent needs, provide support for mental health and overall well-being, and contribute to enhancing individuals’ resilience for the future.

The available funds are designated to address several key areas of practical assistance and guidance:

Energy: Offering aid with energy expenses related to heating, lighting, cooking, and water usage for homes.

Food: Combating food scarcity by distributing meals through avenues such as food banks, food parcels, social supermarkets, or food vouchers.

Essentials: Assisting individuals in maintaining warmth and health through the provision of warm clothing, blankets, hygiene products, and essential equipment like fridges, freezers, and ovens. Additionally, support can extend to covering broadband and phone bills, vital transportation costs such as car repairs or bicycle purchases, and financing energy-efficient measures that yield lasting savings for households. This includes activities such as insulating hot water tanks, installing draught excluders, or replacing inefficient light bulbs.

Resilience: Establishing welcoming spaces that offer a comfortable environment for people to access refreshments, engage in activities, and obtain information about further support resources. Feedback garnered from the initial phase of the Calderdale Cost of Living Fund underscores the positive impact of these “warm and welcoming spaces.” Not only did they aid in lowering household expenses, but they also facilitated social connections, volunteer opportunities, and support for personal improvement.

A case in point is “Our Place,” situated at Boothtown Methodist Church in Calderdale. This organisation benefited from £4,000 during the inaugural phase of the Cost of Living Fund. Throughout the winter period, “Our Place” provided a welcoming environment complete with transportation, activities, games, entertainment, and hot meals. This initiative catered to individuals with disabilities, caregivers, former caregivers, and people of all ages seeking support.

Melanie Rumble, Coordinator at Our Place, said; “We have had new attendees who are really struggling at the moment. They comment that it’s like having a day out, but not having to worry about the cost, not being cold, isolated or alone and being able to get support not only from people like us but from their peers who make them realise that they are not struggling alone.

“Julie started attending our warm spaces sessions with her daughter in January, which thanks to the Cost of Living Fund we are able to offer for free. She is a carer for her daughter, has disabilities herself and often struggles to take her daughter out. To reduce her outgoings, Julie doesn’t have hot meals and often stays home feeling quite isolated.

“Julie can socialise whilst her daughter mixes with others, they are able to take part in activities, and Julie can have a hot lunch and as many cups of tea as she would like! This service had made such a difference to Julie’s mental well-being. Her daughter has also greatly benefited from attending, she has made friends within the group and taken part in activities that she would not normally engage in.”

Cllr Sarah Courtney, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Towns, Tourism and Voluntary Sector, said; “Calderdale’s community organisations do a fantastic job of supporting our priority to reduce inequalities. The Cost of Living Fund is part of a whole package of support that the Council, our partners and communities have been providing since the cost of living started increasing.

“We know that this support is offering a vital lifeline for people who are struggling not only with money but with their mental health. We’re keen for applications to the relaunched Cost of Living Fund to emphasise wellbeing support as well as the more practical solutions.”

Steve Duncan, CEO of the Community Foundation for Calderdale, added; “We have a history of being resilient in Calderdale, so when facing the cost of living crisis, it has been vital that this partnership working will offer grants to help offer practical support and guidance to people in our local community.”

Calderdale community organisations can apply for funding at until 10am on Friday 25 August 2023. Grants apply for the period from September 2023 to the end of March 2024.