Council to offer 'warm and welcoming' places to help South Tyneside families struggling with energy bills and the cost of living crisis
Town hall chiefs released more details of a ‘warm and welcoming’ places scheme to support people struggling with the cost of living crisis this autumn and winter.
Part of this included publishing a list of “warm and welcome” places to keep warm and access other support on offer.
Almost 50 places have now been made available to either drop in or access free activities in a range of venues across the borough.
This includes community centres, churches, charities, children’s centres, South Shields Football Club and council buildings such as The Word, with a full list published on the council’s website.
The measure is just one action to come out of a ‘Cost of Living Summit’, which saw representatives from 28 organisations offer responses to the cost of living crisis.
As well as the council, this included the NHS, community and voluntary organisations, Metro operator Nexus, Northumbria Police, Job Centre Plus and faith groups.
A cost of living support directory is also being prepared to highlight support available, ranging from food banks and debt advice, to subsidised travel and energy efficiency improvements and will be available both online and in key locations.
Other actions agreed at the meeting included setting up an online cost of living support hub and promoting the Welfare Support Service to help people navigate the benefits system.
Following the summit, council leader Tracey Dixon has written to the new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, to highlight the impact the cost of living crisis is having on South Tyneside and to call for extra cash.
Letters will also be sent to energy companies requesting more support for people hardest hit by price rises.
Cllr Ruth Berkley, cabinet member for the voluntary sector, partnerships and equalities, said: “We know the cost of living crisis is having a significant adverse impact on low and middle income earners in South Tyneside.
“With almost a quarter of our residents living in the top ten per cent most deprived areas of the country, it is vital that the Government understands what this crisis means for real people.”
South Tyneside Council already supports the borough’s food banks with donations and has handed over more than £440,000 since 2020/21.
The council and other organisations in the borough are now expected to consider how to support the expansion of community shops and pantries which provide subsidised food and dedicated support, while also exploring further support and funding for debt advice agencies.
Cllr Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for adults, health and independence, added: “We know from Covid that we pull together as a community when faced with challenging times.
“The summit proved that there was real commitment from the council, NHS, charities and our other public and private sector partners to work together and help our residents through this crisis.”
For more details on warm and welcome places across South Tyneside, visit the council’s website at: https://www.southtyneside.gov.uk/warmspaces
A dedicated web page has also been created to offer cost of living support. here: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/costofliving
For help with benefits, residents are asked to contact council teams on 0191 424 6040 or email [email protected]