Dorset residents urged to reach out for support quickly amid cost of living crisis

RESIDENTS who wouldn’t usually ask for help are being encouraged to reach out for support early, as the cost of living rises.

While many people who have needed help before may be confident reaching out to government services and voluntary organisations for support, the cost of living is now impacting people who may not know where to start.

Dorset Council is working with its partners to signpost people to the right place to meet their circumstances.

Cost of Living Help is a new webpage from the council which puts advice and support on money, access to food, housing, support for children, mental health and wellbeing and employment, all in one place.

People can check if they’re eligible for benefits, free school meals, low tariffs for their utilities, and charitable grant schemes. There’s also advice on housing and employment.

Specialist help is also available over the phone, in person and online from Dorset Citizens Advice. Citizens Advice provides free, confidential and impartial advice on money, consumer, housing and other issues and is available for everyone.

Older residents are being supported by Age UK (North, South and West Dorset), which the council also works with, to ensure older people can access advice and financial help.

Those in fuel poverty, i.e. spending over 10 per cent of their household income on energy costs, or on a low income, can apply for supermarket vouchers.

There is an online application form or help completing the form can be obtained from the council’s Digital Champions. Visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/household-support-fund for more details and the application form.

Cllr Laura Beddow, portfolio holder for Culture, Communities and Customer Services, said: “We are once again pulling together with our partners at Citizens Advice, Age UK, Help and Kindness and all the foodbanks, community shops and community fridges, to put in place help where it is needed most.

“I understand it is a particularly worrying time for people who do not usually ask for help but now is the time to act. Our website provides links to a wide range of information and financial advice, so I urge people to start there.

“If you need to talk to someone there’s links to telephone and text support too.”

Daniel Cadisch, chief officer at Citizens Advice Central Dorset, said: “It’s vital people do not worry alone and instead get expert advice and support early to prevent problems getting out of hand.

“We can help with money worries including applying for benefits, managing unpaid bills and repayments and advise people on employment and housing matters.

“Our advice is free, impartial and confidential and available in person, online and over the phone. Call 0800 144 8848 or visit  citizensadvicedorset.org.uk  to find our offices around Dorset.”

David Thorp, chief executive officer for Age UK North, South and West Dorset, said: “The cost of living is a particular worry for older people who typically have fixed, and often, very low incomes.

“Many older residents are already choosing food or fuel but there is help, including financial support, available to prevent this.

“We are working with Dorset Council to ensure older residents of Dorset have access to the advice and support they need, as well as the benefits they should be claiming.”

You can get advice and support for the cost of living at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/cost-of-living-help

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