Everyone now knows the UK is facing a complex and dynamic situation, as we struggle to transition from fossil fuels to low carbon alternatives; and at the same time face increasing problems with securing reliable and cheap supplies of gas and oil, on which we continue to rely.
You may be someone who is now really worried about how you are going to manage the new forecast energy prices to keep warm, cook, put the lights on and watch TV. Will you have to move to a smaller house? Not have a holiday this year? Drop to a single car?
Or you may be a person who has been facing these difficulties already. Sadly many people have been facing these problems for years. Those on low incomes and/or benefits, often living in poorly maintained and insulated property, have faced the choice of being warm or eating.
Our country has arguably allowed this poverty to become embedded in many people’s lives, and many of us have been relatively silent on the matter. Until now. Now it affects us. You and me, not ‘them’. Perhaps this moment is one for reflection, discussions in family and community, and yes, church. How do we support each other in these challenging times, when we seem to have drifted into a society more focused on self than neighbour?
Communities Together Durham are here to help these reflections and discussions, and we can help with practical tools and models that you might consider trying locally. Please contact us if you’re interested in how we might work together. These deserve and will have future blogs, but right now people need information, practical advice and support.
The situation is dynamic and fluid, so Government policy and energy companies and the regulators positions are changing. No one forecast the current conflict in Ukraine and the threat is poses to energy supplies into Europe. It’s important to keep yourself up to date, and check regularly on what help is available.
Our research revealed a wide variety of different levels of information from local authorities and consumer advice websites, so we wanted to provide a simple and straightforward source of information. Although there is a lot in this article, we’d advice you check out the information provided at Money Saving Expert’s website, who are providing comprehensive and accurate information. The latest article (16th March 2022) is here https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/how-to-get-help-if-you-re-struggling-with-your-energy-bills-/
It you’re struggling with using the internet, and would prefer to talk to someone, we’d recommend you make an appointment at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They will be able to provide you with advice and support.
Whatever the cause, if debt is a problem for you, there is help available. Here are a number of national contacts, websites and contact numbers, who provide free, confidential debt advice:-
National Debtline: 0808 808 4000
Businesses in Debt: 0800 197 6026
StepChange: 0800 138 1111
Christians Against Poverty: 0800 328 0006
You can also use this link at Money Helper to search for local support https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/money-troubles/dealing-with-debt/use-our-debt-advice-locator?source=mas#
Local Community Money Advice centres:-
East Durham Trust, Yoden Way, Peterlee 0191 5693511 http://www.eastdurhamtrust.org.uk/
CMA County Durham, Drum Industrial Estate, Chester-le-Street 0191 3037514 http://www.durhamcp.org.uk/
CMA Jarrow, St Peter’s Church, Jarrow 0191 489 1925 / 07555 406416 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Christians Against Poverty centres:-
Sunderland, Bethshan Church Park Road Sunderland SR2 8HR 08003280006
Houghton-le-Spring, Bethany Christian Centre Hetton Road, Houghton Le Spring DH5 8PF 08003280006
Darlington, St Andrews Church, Haughton-Le-Skerne 08003280006
Stockton, Tees Valley Community Church, Oakwood Centre, Eaglescliffe 08003280006
In the longer term, this and other economic pressures are going to face us all. Let us respond in a loving and supportive way to our neighbours and communities, and seek justice in the way our Government responds.