£339,880 distributed across the region to support people affected by cost of living crisis
Launched as an appeal on 21st September 2022, the Two Ridings Cost of Living Crisis Fund was created in response to people all over the region affected by the huge rise in the cost of food, energy, fuel, and the ability for them to have their basic living needs met.
Many of the groups we support were telling us of local people having to choose whether to heat their homes or put food on the table. We heard from Johnny who could no longer afford to look after his own health needs, have his lights on or even grab a coffee for a much needed sociable meet up. A community leader told us of pensioners in Bridlington having to sell their homes and how they were now living in a bedsit with only a kettle to cook with. We also knew it was affecting every kind of person in society – the young and the old, students and families – people from all walks of life.
Naturally we knew that local charitable organisations were crucial to supporting people, and that those very organisations were struggling too. They were telling us their bills had gone through the roof, their basic overheads becoming unaffordable to carry on and their staff becoming ill from the stress they were carrying for others.
So our cost of living crisis fund had two objectives – to directly support the people most affected by the crisis, and also to support the charities with their increased costs of operating, so that they could carry on their invaluable support.
As of May 2023 Two Ridings has raised £550,000 and has distributed £339,880 in 113 awards from the fund to charitable organisations across York, North Yorkshire, Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.
We are one of one of the only regional funders recognising the cost of living crisis in their grant making, and unlike in the pandemic, there is no national funder responding directly to the crisis.
Wide variety of donors supporting the cost of living fund
Donors have ranged from local authorities like Scarborough Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council to major local businesses like the Bettys and Taylors Group, as well as many individuals.
The current Lord Mayor of York, Cllr David Carr, and the chair of Craven District Council, Cllr Simon Myers both used their fundraising events in their year of office to support the fund.
Through our national membership body UK Community Foundation, other donations came from British Red Cross, the Government and M&G Investment Bank.
The fund remains open indefinitely
We continue to receive donations and will keep the appeal and fund going for as long as it is needed and we have funds to distribute. As with other crisis funds we have managed in the past (the floods and Covid pandemic) we will shift the emphasis towards longer term recovery and resilience, especially for the local voluntary and community sector.
Charitable organisations have faced the most challenging times since March 2020 and staff, volunteers and financial reserves are stretched to beyond breaking point.
Local panels making the decision on how to distribute the funding
Knowing that people closest to the issues are best placed to make decisions about our grant awards, the cost of living fund had a local panel to make decisions on awards. It is made up of representatives from across the region, all of whom had close experience of how the cost of living experience is impacting people and charities.
The panel has met six times and has considered 139 applications, funding 113 of them.
First wave of funding directly supporting people through winter
In the first wave of the funding between October 2022 and February 2023 most awards were for around £2,000 and were targeted at providing financial and practical support to people dealing with the challenges of the cost of living crisis through the winter.
Typical grants made include:
Kyra Women’s Project in York received £1,620 in November 2022 to fund their provision of hot food to women on low incomes using their drop in sessions.
Scarborough based Carers Plus Yorkshire received £1,700 in November to go towards flasks, warm clothes, information cards, as warm bundles to vulnerable households.
Lifeline Harrogate received £1,719 to purchase hot water bottles, blankets and food for people affected by homelessness and on low incomes.
Action for Elders Trust received £1,784 in February 2023 to help people living in Foxwood Estate York address worries around heating and bills.
Hessle and Anlaby Food Bank in the East Riding of Yorkshire received £1,800 in February to go toward the cost of food parcels and Easter Eggs for children.
Giroscope in Hull received £1,930 in November for warm bedding, clothes slow cookers and pre-payment support for tenants including single mums and refugees.
Citizens Advice Mid-North Yorkshire and Citizens Advice York both received £2,000 in November to provide warm packs to clients as well as receiving advice around debt and maximising income.
Larger grants to support community hubs
From March 2023 we extended the range of funding to provide larger grants to provide more specific support to charitable organisations as they faced their own struggles with funding utility costs etc.
Our grants were targeted at those organisations that we know are highly regarded and trusted by people that use them, are open 5 days or more a week and are warm hubs when anyone in the local community can come to access a warm meal, a hot drink and a friendly face.
Examples of these grants include:
Mind in Harrogate District got £4,000 in March 2023 to fund their work to support people who are homeless or in temporary housing.
The Green Team in Goole received £10,000 for their 7 day a week community space and café.
Resurrected Bites in Harrogate received £5,000 to purchase items and cover overhead costs for the organisation as they provide a warm and safe space for people on low incomes.
Restore York received £5,000 to go towards the costs of Housing Support workers who provide information, housing advice and practical support to people who have been homeless to get into and stay in their own homes.
Settle Community & Business Hub received £774 for a public living room and community fridge as well as signposting and advice support.
Citizens Advice Mid-North Yorkshire got a further £8000 grant in March 2023 toward their essential services and operating costs.
The Rainbow Centre in Scarborough received a £10,000 grant toward food, cookery courses, warm space costs so that this vital organisation could stay open longer and offer more support.
The Hinge in Bridlington received £10,000 in April 2023 towards food, fuel, overheads, Fareshare membership and training so this critical charity in an area of significant need can continue to offer support to those facing financial hardship.
Community Works in Thirsk received £10,000 in March 2023 towards their foodbank costs and their warm space.
Continuing support needed
The cost of living crisis is not abating. Our Cost of living Crisis Fund remains open to anyone who wants to donate.
If you want to talk more deeply about making a difference to local communities and people in York, North Yorkshire, Hull and East Riding, do not hesitate to get in touch with Celia McKeon