As the cost of living continues to drive people towards poverty, we are helping people on the brink of homelessness get back on their feet.
Inflation, soaring food and fuel prices and rising rents have seen more and more people in East Hampshire threatened with homelessness.
Rents in Hampshire are the seventh highest in the country, and for people who are already struggling to make ends meet, that can be a massive financial millstone.
Our housing officers are seeing an upturn in households who have either been evicted or are worried about their home. We have more people in temporary accommodation than ever before.
And it’s up to us to help them back on their feet.
Part of the support we offer is a place to live, a front door to call their own. This happens first with a short-term placement at supported accommodation, such as the new pods in Pinewood, Whitehill & Bordon.
With the help of homelessness charity Two Saints, residents are given the support, advice and health care they need to move on.
In some cases, they then move to temporary accommodation, such as an unfurnished house or flat. This gives people an address, and so access to a bank account, benefits and employment.
It’s not easy to make a house a home – even the basic utilities are out of reach financially for many of the people we are helping.
That’s why in February we launched a scheme to provide white goods to those who are fighting their way back.
This was one of 12 welfare priorities I announced, and I am delighted to see how much progress has been made in such a short time.
Since April we have bought 29 brand-new appliances for individuals and families who desperately needed our help. These items were mostly fridge-freezers and cookers, to help people eat fresh and eat healthily, but we have also bought washing machines and microwaves in special cases.
We set aside £20,000 for the scheme and we are trying to stretch those resources as far as we can.
The scheme is referral only, for people identified for us by trusted partner organisations.
The people we see come from all walks of life. Many of them are still in work but an unexpected extra expense, like the impact of landlords increasing their rent or selling up, means they can no longer make ends meet and are tipped into crisis.
We are trying to help people out of an incredibly difficult situation, who would otherwise be hitting the bottom with a hard bump.
It’s up to us and our partners to make sure they land on their feet and have a pathway back.