Supporting the Community in Difficult Times
Congleton Town Council and partners are working together to offer warm friendly spaces for residents impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. A ‘Congleton Cares’ activity leaflet has been produced featuring a timetable of activities taking place daily, weekly, fortnightly or some on a monthly basis. The leaflet also lists places of support which provide a warm welcome, advice, and comfort. The free leaflet is available from Congleton Information Centre, Congleton Library and Congleton Museum. It can be viewed online via the link below:
Congleton Town Council in partnership with local groups, organisations and Cheshire East is looking to see what actions we can take as a town to help residents and businesses get through the cost-of-living crisis. With soaring energy and food bills this is a difficult time for many. The Town Council is looking at options for supporting and advising those most in need on food, warmth, mental health issues and financial advice.
Cheshire East Council has launched an essential guide for residents on how to look after their wellbeing this winter. The booklet, produced in conjunction with council partners, is packed full of advice, information, and sources of support on how to keep warm, stay well and safe this winter. View or download the winter wellbeing booklet (PDF, 5MB) here. For more information on how to look after your wellbeing, view the wellbeing pages.
Almost 70% of the people who answered a September 2022 survey told us they were worried about bills over the next 12 months. The comments made it clear that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting the majority of residents, including many who have never needed or expected to have to ask for help before.
Most requested was information about cheaper food options, support for mental health, understanding household finances and information about how and where to get financial help.
Some advice and useful contacts are below. If you want to get involved in supporting the community, or to get connected with others locally about the cost-of-living crisis, please join our Congleton Cares Facebook Group. You could also call the Cheshire East Cost-of-Living helpline on 0300 123 5024.
Financial Support from Government
The National Energy Price Guarantee limits what suppliers can charge for electricity and gas. Learn more about the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee here. You can find other ways to save money and benefits you may be entitled to on the Cost of Living support page.
Cheshire East Council is providing payments from the Household Support Fund for low-income or vulnerable people. More information and how to apply is here.
Food Help Available Locally
Congleton Social Supermarket – this is on Lawton Street on Wednesdays and Fridays 10am–2pm. It is run by the Green Tree House Café Charity. You can pick up 10 items of food for £4.50, 20 items for £9 or 30 for £13.50. Some items are limited. No referral needed. The supermarket is currently moving premises and will re-open on 14th February 2023.
The StoreHouse, New Life Church, West Road has runs a free food bank for people facing an emergency or extreme hardship. They have helped more than 31,200 people. Help is available Monday to Friday 9.30am – 2.30pm. Parcels are by referral and there are more than 50 agencies that can refer you. More at: www.nlchurch.org.uk/storehouse
Recipe Ideas – there is a wealth of information online about nourishing meals and purchasing cheaper food. Such as www.frugal.org.uk BBC Good Food, Good Housekeeping Magazine. There are also many recipe books in Congleton library to help inspire people wishing to cook from scratch. Many supermarkets discount products when on their use by/best before date.
Mental Health Support
With increased pressure brought about by financial worries, it is not surprising that mental health concerns are also rising. Like physical illness, mental illness can affect anyone. And just like with a physical illness it is important that you seek support particularly if you:
- Feel sad and worthless
- Have lost interest in things that you once enjoyed
- Have feelings of worry and panic
Your local doctors’ surgery is usually the best place to start. They will be able to provide you with different options of support which may include talking therapies, and/or medication.
There is a 24 hour, 7-day-a-week local NHS Mental Health Crisis Line run by NHS staff for people of all ages needing mental health support in our area. The number is 0800 145 6485.
If you suspect a friend, work colleague or family member is suffering one way you can support them is simply by listening, not interrupting, just letting them talk and respond in a non-judgemental way.
Details of local mental health groups can be found on the Your Mental Health Matters page.
Friendly and Warm Places to Go
- Old Saw Mill – Community Café and so much more on Back River Street. Various groups and organisations, just call in for a chat.
- Bear Grills and Wild and Wild – Gift a coffee or meal – customers often leave a free donation for those who need it more.
- Cricket Club – Company Corner, every Monday 10am – 12noon
- New Life Church – Jubilee Club– tea and toast every Tuesday
- Blueys of Congleton (in the Town Hall) FREE Food and Friendship – Mondays, 11am-3pm and Thursdays 3.30pm – 6.30pm. Please book in advance – call or text Mark Bailey on: 07722 008421
- Congleton Library – Events include Story and Tea for grown-ups, Keen Cooks recipe swap, Crafternoon Tea, Crafty Natter, Good Vibrations sing along, Let’s Chat sessions. Otherwise, use the internet, charge your phone – or just a enjoy a warm place to sit down and read a book! No limit to the time you spend during opening hours.
- Counting House – refillable coffee – £1.25.
- Chapell Centre – ‘pay it forward’ scheme so visitors can pay for a coffee or tea for a future visitor, and acting as a warm place to sit throughout opening hours (Tuesday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm)
Whatever the issue, you are not alone and millions of others are in a similar position. The issue will not magically resolve itself. If you can’t make your payments it is best to speak to your lenders or suppliers and try and come to an arrangement. www.nationaldebtline.org has useful information on making the most of your money and dealing with high electric and gas bills. They can also be contacted on 0808 808 4000.
There is also a wealth of information at www.moneyhelper.org, which is a free service provided by the money and pensions service and sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions.
For self-employed people there is a www.businessdebtline.org or tel 0800 197 6062.
www.citizensadvice.org.uk has specialist debt advisors can talk you through options – call 0808 808 4000
You can use a free and anonymous benefits calculator to check what benefits you could be entitled to – see https://www.entitledto.co.uk/
If you know of other support available locally or would like to add any information to this page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We featured the cost-of-living crisis in the October issue of Bear Necessities, which goes into every house in Congleton.
Cost of Living in Congleton Impact Survey
In September 2022, Congleton Town Council carried out an online survey looking at the impact of the soaring cost of energy and food prices on residents.
Summary of results:
- 23% struggling to make ends meet
- 15% fallen behind on some or all payments
- 53% kept up with bills, but with a struggle
- 30% not experiencing difficulty paying bills
- 69% were worried or extremely worried about bills over the next 12 months
- 46% buying less food and essentials
- 65% using less water, energy or food
- 62% reduced spending on non-essential items and leisure
- 52% eating or drinking out less frequently
This is based on 229 responses. The questionnaire was answered by people across Congleton. 50% were in full-time employment, 19% part-time and 20% were retired. 77% owned their own home, 8% in private rented and 15% in social housing. 70% were aged 30 to 59.
Last updated: 23rd January 2023