The rising cost of living is having an impact on everyone, with household bills increasing, as well as food and fuel prices.
The national domestic abuse charity Refuge recent study outcomes state that the cost of living situation is having a significant impact on those experiencing domestic violence and abuse, making them less likely to reach out for support.
Despite the financial challenges that many find themselves in, it is important that those experiencing domestic abuse can access support, should they need it. In addition, receive financial support when moving into refuge, during their stay in refuge and resettlement.
- 97% of frontline staff surveyed said the cost-of-living crisis was having a significant or severe impact on survivors. In many cases, survivors were forced to use foodbanks for essential items.
- Nearly three quarters of staff said that the cost-of-living crisis was deterring survivors from accessing support, whilst 68% said that survivors were questioning whether they had made the right decision to leave the perpetrator given how financially challenging it is.
- Half of the staff interviewed said that the people they were supporting had to buy new items that they had left behind, including clothes, technology, and other basic household items.
It is clear that the cost of living crisis continues to have an impact on those experiencing domestic abuse and could increase further on victims. WHWR heating costs will double in April 2024. The burden of which cannot be carried by residents who are finding it difficult to pay the current costs for their rooms.
In addition to heating and general bills, the cost of school uniforms, pressure both peer and children to parent brings added pressures around Birthdays and Special holidays like Christmas.
Food Bills have increased, and WHWR residents are supported by local food banks.
Our employees are paid on the NJC scale. NJC scales are local government pay scales, which are extensively used in the voluntary sector. They are a result of negotiations between trade unions (Unite, Unison and GMB) and Local Government Association. All employees were given a £1925 increase this year. This has helped somewhat.
Feedback from staff members include increase in childcare by 33% from £450 to £600 pcm equating to £1800 per annum. Luxuries are compromised and staycations are the norm instead of going abroad or travel in the UK. Food Bills have increased significantly too especially those with larger families.
To ensure staff are well supported WHWR has introduced an employment assistance programme through Peninsula https://www.peninsulagrouplimited.com/ for advice and support in addition clinical supervision.
We have been fortunate to be funded by Hertfordshire Community Foundation from the Fuel and Food Grant and have applied for government funding through The Lottery Fund, although this not guaranteed… the pressure remains to secure the funds to cover these costs.
Denise Fenn, CEO October 2023.