With around a third of children in the Diocese of Salford living in poverty – estimated by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation working with Loughborough University to be as high as 228,855 young people – Caritas Salford is seeing significantly increased demand for support across its services, as it responds to people facing acute crisis this winter.
The charity, which works alongside families, individuals and other organisations across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, has noticed a significant increase in demand for food and other basic materials, as well as a need for financial support, debt advice, and help for people experiencing or threatened with homelessness.
Patrick O’Dowd, director of Caritas Salford, said: “As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, any of us could find ourselves in a situation we’d never imagined could happen. Forced eviction, having to choose between eating or staying warm, facing a Christmas alone, or sleeping rough.
“This is the reality for thousands of people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire at the moment and we know that many more will continue to face acute crisis as the Christmas season approaches.
“People with families that are often working many, many hours a week to try and make ends meet are still in a situation where they’re unable to put on the heating or make rent or mortgage payments. It is simply unacceptable that people are forced to live in such poverty in 2022 and action must be taken urgently to improve support that is available to those most in need.”
Blackburn and Burnley are two of the Diocese of Salford’s worst affected areas, most directly because of the disproportionate impact of inflation. Cementing Caritas Salford’s findings are Centre for Cities, an independent thinktank, who suggest that these areas are facing approximately an 11+% inflation rate, Burnley itself at 13% at the time of writing, further exacerbating the north-south divide as other areas in England are not as adversely impacted. Cities such as London, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, and Reading are able to shoulder these increased costs more easily with inflation rates calculated to be around 10%.
Caritas Salford has also seen an increase in people seeking support who have mental health concerns, as the stress and anxiety they may be experiencing every day because of the financial pressures they are under grows. Parents unable to afford shampoo for their children; individuals unable to afford the medication they need to stay fit and well; people unsure of where their next meal is coming from – the team is working closely with as many individuals in need as possible to help them to transform their lives with dignity.
Patrick added: “Charities like ours are obviously feeling many of the same pressures that other organisations and individuals are feeling too – increased bills, for example to heat our day centres for people experiencing homelessness, rising food prices, and other soaring costs are making it increasingly hard to meet the ever-growing needs of local people.”
The team has launched an appeal this Advent urging people to #BeeThere for others this Christmas. The campaign includes a specially created short animated film, following a bee who is sleeping rough in the city and his experiences.
For more information, including how to donate, please visit https://www.caritassalford.org.uk/beethere.