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Vital support available to help Dales residents cope with cost of living

Households struggling with the cost of living are being given a wealth of information by North Yorkshire County Council to help cope with the pressures on their finances.

Information has been collated by the county council for schemes run by the authority as well as other organisations offering help such as emergency hardship funds or energy-saving support.

A new web page on the internet signposts residents in the county to places where they can receive free support or advice, as well as details of schemes which can help people save money.

The cost of living webpage, which can be found at www.northyorks.gov.uk/cost-living-support, also contains information for families needing to access free wi-fi for children’s school work, or people looking to save money on their commute by signing up to a liftshare scheme. Details of childcare funding and where to find debt or benefits advice are also included.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for corporate services, Cllr David Chance, said: “We are aware that the cost of living is presently at the forefront of many people’s minds in North Yorkshire.

“To this end we have brought together details of schemes and assistance available from across the council, as well as details of other organisations who may be able to help people in immediate financial crisis.

“This includes organisations who can provide professional advice on debt, help with the cost of food and heating bills, as well as details of funding schemes to help meet the cost of insulating homes.”

As the cost of essential items and fuel continues to rise, managers at food banks in the region said more and more people are now finding themselves in a position where they are struggling.

Harrogate District Foodbank’s manager, Dawn Cussons, said last month they helped more than 270 families in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area.

She added: “Demand had eased off a little bit after the pandemic, but now, with the cost of living, we are seeing there is a huge gap between many people’s incomes and what the cost of living is and people are just not managing.

“We are based in quite an affluent area. There is a lot of need in Harrogate, but also a lot of people who donate, so we’re very lucky. Harrogate is one of the healthier foodbank stocks in the county. We put an appeal out on Facebook every week for supplies needed and people come in with the items needed or donations. It’s a fantastic response.

“It also allows us to help a local secondary school with supplies for breakfast club and other supplies for some of their families in dire need, especially as a lack of food also impacts children and young people’s ability to learn.

“A recent development is also the impact of increased energy prices on food poverty, as people are often not able to put their oven on and are asking for things which can be cooked by boiling a kettle or in a microwave to save on energy. Some people are trying not to use electricity at all at the moment.

“One of our volunteers served in the Army and has adjusted the donations we ask for, so we can hand out more nutritious, energy-rich food. We now give out extra things like butter, nuts, raisins and honey and things that can go in the microwave. We’re very grateful for all these donations and all the other support we receive.”

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