Cost of living crisis: “Everyone deserves a warm space and food”

Written by on 27th February 2023

As the cost of living rises for households across the UK, individuals and charity organisations in Sunderland are supporting people in need of food and warm spaces.

Impact NorthEast- Warm Space

The growing energy prices disproportionately affect low-income earners, making some entirely dependent on food banks.

Furthermore, electricity prices in the UK rose by 66.7% and gas prices by 129.4% in the year to January 2023, necessitating the need for ‘warm spaces’.

Warm spaces are places provided for residents and families struggling to heat their homes to get warm refuge. In some, refreshments are provided.
Among the many warm spaces in Sunderland is Impact NorthEast, which operates from the Commissioner’s building in St. Thomas Street.

Volunteer Diane Conway told Spark: “I come in twice a week to help out. We help people with benefits and different things as well as offer warm spaces and food.

Impact NorthEast Volunteer, Diane Conway.

“So many people out there who have nothing could do with a little bit of support. Our aim is to support and help them cope with the cost of living.”

The 59-year-old also said: “On a daily basis, we have a record of at least 17 people dropping by. There are people who go from one warm space to another, so they come in regularly. Sometimes, they just want someone to talk to and that’s where our referrals and counselling services come in.

“The space is open to parents and children every day except Sundays. Children have a safe place to play games, free internet for their assignments, and they can participate in crafts and watch movies, while parents can relax.

“It is open to everyone, regardless of who you are.”
Community councillor, Kim McCullough, said asides from offering warm spaces, Impact NorthEast has dedicated food services for people really in need.

Kim McCullough, Project lead at Impact NorthEast

“If anyone is struggling with the cost of living- all you have to do is ring up, and we will be there. It is hard enough when people have to ask for toiletries and food,” she added.

The 53-year-old said at the moment they go through the council for funding and support, and they hope to extend this until summer with the funding received.

Outside the commissioner’s building, Anderson Collin, 58, told Spark: ” I have not visited any warm space as long as I remember, but my grandchildren are registered in two spaces. I pick them up sometime and notice they have packs of extra things to engage them at home.

“It is easy to think most of these things mean nothing. I assure you it goes a long way for not just the kids but for the parents.

“I am not sure how long this will continue, but I hope it does for the people who really need it.”

The cost of living increased sharply across the UK during 2021 and 2022. The annual rate of inflation reached 11.1% in October 2022, a 41-year high, before easing in subsequent months to 10.1% in January 2023. High inflation affects the affordability of goods and services for households.
For more about warm spaces, visit Impact NorthEast.

Impact NorthEast team- Diane Conway, Kim McCullough.

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