Community First

Message from Rural Action Derbyshire

As the cost of living crisis continues to ramp up challenges faced by everyday people across the county, Rural Action Derbyshire is doing everything they can to help the most vulnerable, despite financial challenges.

The Derbyshire charity is offering a number of crucial avenues of support to those struggling to make ends meet. In rural areas housing costs are high and people usually need a car to get around so have little choice but to pay the high fuel prices. Employment opportunities are limited and often with low wages and there isn't the choice of low price supermarkets available compared to urban areas.

Making things worse is the impact of isolation, with a Department for Transport study finding that 50% of the rural population are living in areas that have the poorest accessibility to services.

And as if that was not enough, energy regulator Ofgem has today confirmed that the cap on household bills will rise by an astonishing 80% in October – from £1,971 to £3,549 a year. This will create extra, extensive financial pressures for those already struggling to make ends meet, with as much as 30% of the rural population likely to be living in fuel poverty this winter.

This is what makes the work of RAD so important.

Through our ground breaking community pantry project, a network of volunteer-run stores offer healthy food for an affordable price - with an average shop costing just 10% of the supermarket price. Pantries are already available in Eckington, Matlock, Chesterfield, Shirebrook and Riddings, with plans in place for seven more to open in the next 18 months.

Our community oil buying scheme also helps households living off the mains gas grid in Derbyshire, who have seen the price of heating oil double in the first quarter of 2022. Thanks to our negotiating power, which comes from buying oil in bulk, we have helped to cut that price significantly for our members.

Finally, with the cost of public transport rising rapidly, more people are finding themselves unable to afford the bus or train- especially as journeys in rural areas often require several changes to get from A to B. To make sure everyone can access work, education and training, our Wheels to Work programme is continuing to offer access to bikes, e-bikes and mopeds for workers in Derbyshire for an affordable fee.

Unfortunately, though, financial challenges have affected our work too. Due to a lack of funds, we have had to temporarily close applications to our Rural Hardship Fund, which has supplied over £17,000 worth of cash, food and household goods to those most in need.

This will come as a blow to our referral partners, and to those struggling to simply get by as household bills continue to soar. However, without regular, secure backing we cannot continue the service for as many people as we need to in the foreseeable future.

RAD will work to restart the scheme as soon as possible, aiming to encourage donations to the fund so that we can once again offer assistance to those requiring support.

As well as the Rural Hardship Fund, RAD runs an Oil Bank to help those people that are unable to afford a delivery of heating oil. With the minimum order quantity currently costing around £450 it is no surprise that some households are struggling to find enough money for their heating. The Oil Bank funds are also low so RAD is asking for donations to the Oil Bank so they can help more people when the winter hits and people need their heating. To make a donation to the Oil Bank, please go to the website: ruralactionderbyshire.org.uk/Appeal/oil-bank-appeal.

We are also looking to speak to people in rural areas to hear about their experiences and concerns at this difficult time, to spotlight how this ongoing crisis continues to affect real people on a daily basis - with individuals' stories potentially being featured on BBC News.

Those wanting to shine a light on their situation can get in touch with Beverley Parker, CEO of Rural Action Derbyshire, on 07738 983656, or by email at b.parker@ruralactionderbyshire.org.uk.

Speaking of the ongoing crisis and RAD's response to it, Beverley said: "Everyone is affected by the current rise in food, energy and fuel costs. Families who are already struggling are also having to deal with the added expense of school uniform at this time of year. We are working hard to try and secure some additional funding for our Rural Hardship Fund and our Oil Bank so we will be able to help people as autumn and winter approach."

For those wishing to support our work, we welcome financial contributions of any size, with every penny hoping to make sure no one is left behind because they live in a rural area. Please head to our website to donate: ruralactionderbyshire.org.uk/donate/rural-action-derbyshire.

Posted: Thu, 08 Sep 2022 13:49 by Sara Atkinson

Tags: Press Releases