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Fair Frome spells out ‘perfect storm’ this winter

LOCAL charity Fair Frome, which runs the local food bank, furniture bank and other projects designed to help those people in acute financial need in Frome, has raised their concern about the impact of coming benefit cuts and cost of living rises, which they say will hit those most in need hardest.  

The charity kept its doors open through the Covid lockdowns and not only made radical changes to the way it delivered its services, but also dramatically increased the level of services it provided – especially through the Foodbank, Food at Five, their Assistance Scheme and direct help to schools and families on Free School Meals.  

The charity said, “This help was welcomed by all sections of the local community who supported the charity in its work, not only through its volunteers, but through increased financial and food donations. 

“The impact of Covid hasn’t ended, with many more cases locally and, although thankfully vaccinations have led to fewer hospitalisations and deaths, many people are still having to self-isolate, with resultant impacts on their mental health and ability to work. 

“Fair Frome, alongside other local groups, had called for the £20 Universal Credit uplift to be maintained but sadly, from the 6th October, the Government has made it clear this will end.” 

Bob Ashford, chair of trustees of Fair Frome, explained, “From October 6th nearly 6 million people on Universal Credit will see their benefits cut. These cuts won’t just impact upon the unemployed, almost 38% of these people are in work – which corresponds to the number of people in work who access our local Food Bank.  

“Amongst the 6 million, are around 300,000 people who also act as unpaid full-time carers. This though is only a part of the picture that is emerging, which will have a devastating impact on the poorest members of our local community.  

“Fuel costs have and will continue to increase substantially, again impacting on those with health issues and those who have pre-payment meters, food and clothing costs will continue to rise, along with inflation as delivery costs rise due to the HGV driver shortage and logistical problems; the Furlough Scheme has just ended and with it the support which kept many families and businesses afloat; the rise in National Insurance payments will hit those on lowest incomes hardest.  

“The government has announced a new Household Support Fund, to be administered by local authorities, but it is unclear yet what this looks like and at an overall value of £500M, is no substitute for the £6Bn worth of support it replaces.  

“All this will create a “perfect storm” this winter for local families, many of whom are already struggling in a town which has become even more markedly a high cost, low-income place to live in recent years.  

“Trying to look on a brighter side though, we know our local community won’t turn a blind eye to all this. Fair Frome would be unable to do the work we do without the support of our local councils, charities, churches, businesses, schools and other groups and the thousands of individuals who donate food, cash and their time to help us.  

“We know, from previous experience, they will all step up and do whatever they can to support us in tackling this growing crisis.” 

For more information or to make a donation go to: 

www.fairfrome.org  or https://en-gb.facebook.com/FairFrome, or call us on 01373 488578  

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