Cost of living crisis
Like many others, this winter, Enable’s clients are being heavily impacted by the rising cost of living. Energy price hikes, the cost of food and the increase in private rental prices are causing single-person households and families significant stress, and we’re receiving more requests for help as a result.
Nikki, an Enable client, told us:
“It’s a terrifying prospect. I won’t be able to afford an increased energy direct debit beyond what I currently pay for heating; I’ve already cancelled all non-essential direct debits to save money. I suffer from chest infections during winter, so the prospect of being cold is scary as the health risks are significant. Another challenge is the cost of food; buying good quality food is becoming more costly, but it’s a necessity. Eating junk food is not good for maintaining strong mental health. Should costs get too severe, I may have to move back into family property temporarily, which would decline my mental health and ability to work in terms of travel.”
Fuel prices, too, are creating serious problems. Parents are concerned that they won’t be able to afford to drive their child or adult to school, college or job placement, while clients who travel independently to work are worried they may no longer be able to do so. Some clients have told us that running a car may simply not be viable this winter.
Struggling to make ends meet
“One of our clients has postponed the re-launch of his business due to the energy price increase,” says Leanne Morrissey, IPS Team Leader at Enable. “His profits will be affected due to the cost of making his product. Even having explored grants, he’s nervous to move forward with anything due to the current financial uncertainty and has lost motivation due to cost of living worries.
“Another client told me she’s lost sleep over the worry of rising energy bills and she believes it has worsened her symptoms of anxiety and depression. She’s excellent at budgeting and earns a good salary, but she lives alone. Her rent prices have increased massively and she may have to resort to food banks if costs increase continue rising. As her house is older and less insulated, it costs much more to heat.”
The impact of these concerns on mental well-being can be severe. Many of the clients we support are already struggling with challenges such as depression and anxiety, and the uncertainty driven by the cost of living crisis is exacerbating that.
The impact on mental health
Supporting mental well-being is one of the many ways Enable can help. This is especially crucial for those who don’t have access to the internet, those who find it harder to engage, or those who simply don’t know where to turn for advice.
Hannah Dodd, Employment Specialist at Enable, says: “We’re definitely seeing more mental health challenges at the moment; it’s a scary time, and many of us are wondering how we’ll manage. We can provide support to anyone who’s struggling or worrying; we have access to a wide range of resources and can signpost clients to other agencies who can help.”
Beyond mental health support, Enable can provide significant practical support to clients. This includes help with issues like budgeting, money management, meal planning and accessing food banks, as well as travel training, lifts or taxi’s to work placements and information on the potential benefits available through their links with the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Help to find the right path
One of the most valuable services Enable offers right now is directly supporting clients into paid employment. This service is entirely free to parents, carers and individuals seeking this help, since Enable’s programmes are fully funded, and the team can provide personalised, one-to-one support to help individuals find the right path for them.
Hannah adds: “We work in partnership with several agencies and a broad range of employers across Shropshire, and as well as supporting individuals into work. We can also support them once they’ve started a job (or a course of education) to provide job coaching or any other assistance they need. In some cases, we can even help clients to retain a job they’re already in, if they’re struggling with practical or mental health challenges.”
While finding a job can be difficult during economically challenging times, Enable work with a number of sectors with a continuous need for staff – such as the care sector where there’s currently a severe shortage of carers, nurses, residential and nursing home staff. Local employers who take on new staff through Enable also benefit from the team’s full support at any time, and at no cost.
For those concerned about how the rising cost of living will impact their quality of life or future opportunities, there are a range of useful resources available as a first port of call – Shropshire Council’s website has local-level advice on the cost of living, while the government outlines eligibility for benefits and tax credits, and the Citizens Advice Bureau provides useful links.
To find out more about how Enable can support you, or the child or adult you care for, contact us today.