There With You This Winter: Our new campaign to help those struggling
- Credit: Getty/Archant
Hundreds of people in our city are heading into a winter of uncertainty.
They face questions over how to pay their bills, how to keep their homes warm at night and even how to feed their families in the coming months.
There has been a perfect storm of financial pressures meaning many will be pushed into hardship - and the warnings from support groups and those in need just keep coming.
So this newspaper is doing something about it.
The Evening News campaign recognises the financial challenges some of our readers face, and will raise awareness and offer support during the cold winter months.
As part of our campaign, 'There With You This Winter', we hope to stand by our communities, just as we did with a series of campaigns during the coronavirus pandemic.
We will not dwell on the things we cannot change, but offer solutions and profile those who have faced hardship and come through the other end in the hope others can be helped in similar ways.
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We will also work closely with the Norfolk Community Foundation to relaunch the annual 'Surviving Winter Appeal' which raises hundreds of thousands of pounds to help those most in need.
As part of the campaign, we pledge to:
- Profile charities and organisations you can turn to for practical advice
- Offer solutions to cut energy costs and become fuel-efficient
- Publish expert advice on how, and when, to switch suppliers
- Signpost essential nationwide services
- Reveal tips to instantly reduce fuel consumption
- Help you budget for Christmas and get expert advice on family financial planning all year round
- Keep you updated on any grants and support available from government or local authorities
- Bring you the best money-saving tips for everything from running your home, car and reducing your weekly shopping bill
Richard Porritt, editor of the Norwich Evening News, said: "In recent weeks our paper has heard of the plight of people heading into winter full of fear. No one should have to choose between keeping their home warm and feeding their family.
"This has come about for a number of reasons. These include the end of furlough, the end to the £20 Universal Credit increase, rising fuel bills, increased joblessness and more.
"By offering solutions, support and real-life stories, plus raising much-needed cash to support the most vulnerable, we hope this campaign can really make a difference to the communities we serve."
If you have a story as part of the campaign please email firstname.lastname@example.org, heading the email 'There With You' campaign.
The perfect storm
Over the next few months families could face a perfect storm of financial blows.
To those already living on the breadline these will be an incredibly bitter pill to swallow.
It is estimated that from October people will see energy bills soaring by around £140, with a further rise expected in April of around £300 due to the raising of the energy cap.
Consumers will also see their energy bills rise as companies fail, with around a dozen collapsing in the last 12 months alone, and they are transferred onto higher tariffs.
In addition, food prices are set to increase and the Universal Credit has been £20, compounding the pressure on the household budget. There were also predictions this week that council tax rates could see a big increase in 2022.
Add to this the end of furlough and the potential for that to cause more job losses and the immediate predictions are grim.
One of the common ways to determine how many families are struggling financially is through the measurement of those in fuel poverty.
A household is considered to be fuel poor if they live in a property with low energy efficiency and would be pushed below the poverty line by the housing costs and the energy bills needed to have a warm, well-lit home.
Nationally, 13.4pc of families are said to be fuel poor, but this is worse in Norwich with 18.7pc of families identified as fuel poor.
Where you can go for help?
Struggling with your bills and not sure where to turn?
There are plenty of local organisations and support groups offering advice. We will be profiling these throughout the campaign.
Wider financial support is still available for those who need assistance, through the Norfolk Assistance Scheme - please visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/NAS or call 0344 8008020.
Here are some websites worth checking out: