LOCAL organisations are offering support to those who are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living with around half of Forest residents feeling the pinch this autumn.
A recent survey from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that nearly half of residents - 46 per cent - have had to cut back on their food spending, while some 58 per cent have had to reduce the amount of hot water, heating or electricity they use.
The survey also found that one in eight people - 12.5 per cent - have missed meals or gone without food. Additionally, around 6.5 per cent have missed a payment on a household bill.
Organisations including the Forest Voluntary Action Forum (FVAF) and Gloucestershire County Council are offering support to residents who are struggling to deal with the challenges of the crisis.
FVAF is hosting a community drop-in event called ‘Coping with the Cost of Living’ at Oaklands Sports Club in Cinderford next Wednesday (November 2) between 2 and 5pm.
At the event, residents with be given the chance to visit more than 20 information stalls and speak face-to-face with organisations about food support, reducing bills, energy saving, searching for a job and benefits and money advice.
Chris Brown, CEO at FVAF, said: “We know that the rising cost of living is becoming a real concern for the whole community, and we are seeing first-hand the strain and impact it is having on the day-to-day lives of local people.
“This event will bring everyone together in one place to offer advice and guidance to support people in the Forest of Dean through the cost-of-living crisis.”
Organisations at the drop-in will include Forest of Dean District Council, Citizens Advice Bureau, Severn Wye Energy Agency, Prospect Training and Two Rivers Housing.
Additionally, Gloucestershire County Council has launched its own online support hub providing a wealth of information and advice alongside a new warm bank offer called ‘Warm and Welcome’.
The scheme will allow residents to access free “warm and welcoming” spaces within libraries, offering a place to relax, hot drinks, free internet access, charging for devices and signposting for further support.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “There is a wealth of information related to support with the cost-of-living challenges, but much of it is scattered across different organisations.
“We’ve brought this together in one place to make accessing this information much easier.
“Alongside this, we are today launching our ‘Warm and Welcome’ offer in libraries - an enhanced offer to what libraries provide every day.
“All this in the same week we announced the new phase of Levelling Up funding to tackle health inequalities in the most deprived communities in Gloucestershire.
“We hope this package of support will help residents in this tough climate.”
The support hub can be found at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/support-hub.