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Emergency cost-of-living fund launched to help struggling older people

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National charity Independent Age has launched a £1 million emergency fund to support community projects to help older people through the cost of living crisis.

Applications for the fund are due to close on 16th September 2022 and the £1 million fund is part of the charity’s rapid response to the cost of living crisis. It will allocate funding to local organisations which can help over 65s who are struggling financially to weather the cost of living crisis.

The charity is looking to support a range of projects that get more money into the pockets of older people. This could be through ensuring they are claiming the benefits to which they are entitled or reducing their expenditure, by switching energy providers or getting better deals for other services.

Independent Age is launching the new fund in response to the urgent need, at a time when many people in later life are facing a winter of despair. Figures show that 2.1 million older people are currently living in poverty. But, with the latest price hike to energy bills announced last week, even more older people are at serious at risk of falling into poverty. For many it will no longer be a choice between heating their home or eating a meal, they will be unable to do either.

Simon Hewett-Avison, Director of Services at Independent Age, said:

“The cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on many older people who have no way to increase their income. As prices go up, and with inflation at an all-time high, more and more older people are being pushed into poverty or having to make impossible decisions about what to cut back on, because the extra money is simply not there. 

“We cannot stand by as people struggle. The scale and speed of the crisis means we need to work together to widen the support options for older people.

“Our £1 million in rapid response grants will help community-based organisations to provide grassroots support for older people and ensure people receive the sustainable help they need. And our existing community work and national services will continue, so we can reach as many people as possible.

“We are calling on other funders to collaborate with us to support more organisations and more older people across the UK deal with this crisis.”

In 2020, Independent Age launched a similar emergency fund to help support community-based organisations struggling in the pandemic. In response to COVID-19, the charity gave over £3 million to 278 small charities who otherwise may have had to scale back the services they provide to older people or risked closure.

One charity to receive such funding is Friends and Neighbours (FaNs) Essex, which received a £13,500 grant in 2021. The Friends and Neighbours (FaNs) Essex initiative links older people in care homes with volunteers to help combat loneliness and isolation in later life.

Tony Smith, Chair of MHLECA, the charity behind FaNs, said:

“We are a small charity, so without grants from the likes of Independent Age, we simply wouldn’t be able to support the people it does. Over the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been increased competition amongst charities for grant funding, so Independent Age’s support is even more vital now than ever before.

“We’re so grateful to Independent Age for their partnership and financial assistance over the past year, and hope to continue this relationship for many years to come.”

simon@simonfrancis.org

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.