Soaring energy bills and rising prices threaten thousands of local people this autumn and winter. In a special article for 853, Greenwich Council’s leader ANTHONY OKERERE outlines what the town hall is doing, and where you can go for help.
What does it matter that we live in one of the greatest economies, when people both young and old in Greenwich are forced to make decisions between paying bills and making it to the end of next month?
How is it justifiable that a parent feels helpless while their child goes hungry, or neighbours struggle to pay their bills and loved ones can’t afford to heat their homes or pay for fuel?
These are the questions that keep me up at night. No resident in our borough should have to make these decisions, but this is what we are facing in our communities.
The cost of living is not just impacting residents and businesses but also how we provide services on a local level. Inflation is causing shockwaves through homes, from buying food and formula for babies, to our NHS nurses having to use workplace food banks.
I am shocked to see that our ex-chancellor is boasting about taking vital funding from deprived communities to fund affluent areas. It is outrageous and unacceptable. Although very much clear before, this latest news proves that the government needs to do more and stop misallocating funds by taking from those most vulnerable; otherwise, winter will be cold and dark for those who are suffering in silence.
While the picture I have painted is bleak, the Royal Borough of Greenwich has a Labour council that is on the side of its people.
Before I was elected in May, I promised that tackling the cost of living crisis was going to be one of my immediate priorities, a pledge I am keeping as the leader of the council through Greenwich Supports.
This would not be possible without the complete support of my fellow councillors, who are doing all they can to speak directly to their wards and communities.
To aid our efforts, we launched a survey to speak to those affected so we understand where urgent help should be targeted. We have also launched a survey for businesses as we work with them to help keep local people in employment.
We are trying to make sure that no resident falls through the cracks. Using £2.3 million in funding we will be making payments to support those that are most vulnerable. The funding ensures we can give emergency cash to those that need it, support our children through the holidays and keep our elderly cared for.
We will be working on the front line to support as many people as we can, but to have the biggest impact we need people across our diverse borough to speak and champion for those unable to do so. Speak to your neighbours, speak to your community groups and speak to members of your faith. Together we want to ensure that no stone is left unturned.
Over the next few weeks our advice hubs, which already support residents in Greenwich Peninsula, Eltham and Glyndon, will include roaming support to help even more residents.
Tuesday 9 August: 10am to 12noon at Abbey Wood Community Centre
Tuesday 16 August: 10am to 12noon at Armada Community Project, Deptford
Tuesday 23 August: 10am to 12noon at Middle Park Community Centre, Eltham
Tuesday 30 August: 2pm to 4pm at Coldharbour Community Centre, Mottingham
We encourage residents that know someone who needs help – to direct them to their local advice hub.
If you are in crisis, call the council-funded Live Well service free on 0800 470 4831.
Behind the scenes the council will be lobbying for immediate action to tackle the cost-of-living crisis. As a council, we will need more support from the government and must hold them accountable if we are to support every person within our community. We must show them how a lack of action to stop rising costs and to enforce better living standards and wages is affecting people.
In the last few weeks, I have visited charities, local support groups and more and I am encouraged by our united effort to support people through this crisis.
A thank you to our partners like Slade Children’s Centre in Plumstead, run by Home Start Greenwich, which is doing vital work to support young mothers. Oxleas NHS Trust working to support people with mental health problems in our communities.
We have just donated £1,000 to Avery Hill Food Bank so it can continue its work supporting hungry families. While our list of partners is endless, this article cannot be, so a continued thank you to everyone coming together to tackle a crisis we had no part in making.
I know that our Greenwich values will take us through together.
The council’s cost of living surveys for residents and businesses can be found at rbgcostofliving.commonplace.is.
For more help, visit royalgreenwich.gov.uk/greenwich-supports.
ANTHONY OKEREKE is the leader of Greenwich Council and a councillor for Woolwich Common ward.
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