Cost-of-living crisis hits charities as homelessness rises

PEOPLE are falling into poverty and charities are struggling to find enough volunteers to help them.

The cost of living crisis is forcing people to choose between paying the rent and putting food on the table, leaving little time and money to help others.

Jim Deans, the founder of local charity Sussex Homeless Support (SHS), which provides people in need with essentials like food and toiletries, said they now feed more than 200 people on a Saturday and 50 on Thursday in their soup kitchen.

“Our numbers have skyrocketed in the last three months,” he said.

“This will only get worse as poverty and domestic violence increase, child poverty and malnutrition worsen, and simple mental health problems increase.

“The government has once again created a perfect storm with local government allowing it to happen.”

The Argus: Sussex Homeless Support provides food to those in needSussex Homeless Support is providing food to those in need

The charity also saw a drop in volunteers as lockdown ended and people got back to work, although they “always manage to keep a core crew”.

Kay Richardson, who is now a senior caregiver at a retirement home in Patcham, arrived in Brighton in 2021 with just a few bags and little money after escaping an abusive relationship.

While receiving help herself, Kay volunteered with Jim every day and said she cooked and provided food for hundreds of people.

Other charities, such as the British Heart Foundation shop in London Road, Brighton, are also beginning to feel the shortage of volunteers.

“Right now everyone is 100 percent having problems,” said Maria, who has worked at the workshop for six years.

Maria is concerned because while her charity is always looking for volunteers, the cost of living crisis is expected to make the situation worse.

The Argus: The British Heart Foundation's London Road storeThe British Heart Foundation store on London Road

This is because many people will be forced to take extra shifts at work to pay for bare necessities and will not have time to volunteer, which the British Heart Foundation, like any charity, relies on.

Even if there are fewer volunteers, there is no shortage of people who need their help.

Shelter, a charity that supports the homeless, reported that late last year one in 78 people in Brighton and Hove was reported homeless before the cost of living skyrocketed.

Across England, one in 206 people have been registered as homeless.

The only places where homelessness is more common than Brighton and Hove are London and Luton.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “With private rents at an all-time high, bills soaring and housing benefits dangerously lagging behind, many more people could be at risk of losing their homes.

Almost half of private renters have no savings and housing benefits have been frozen since 2020, tearing huge holes in the home’s safety net.

“To help people pay their rent and prevent rising homelessness in this immediate crisis, the government must end the housing benefit freeze now.

“Beyond that, the only permanent solution is to invest in decent social housing with really affordable rents linked to local income.” Cost-of-living crisis hits charities as homelessness rises

Fry Electronics Team

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