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POVERTY SPOTLIGHT: Financial struggles on the rise
RECENT figures revealed that many more people are struggling financially in Dorset.
Margaret Barker, of Dorchester Poverty Action Group, said figures calculated during a recent Poverty Action Week survey showed the numbers were increasing.
The survey monitored the use of local poverty groups and agencies across a one week period.
During Action Week, a total of 18 people used Dorchester's Citizens Advice Bureau for guidance to deal with their debts and seven people in an acute financial crisis with no money for food or fuel.
The First Dorset Credit Union had four new members, including a family with a need for an immediate loan for basic household items, and a man with no food.
Dorset Reclaim had 25 new clients needing furniture, of which nine were in serious financial crisis.
Second Chance Furniture saw nine new clients, of which five were in significant need.
The Dorchester Foodbank had 11 clients, eight of them were new, some of them elderly and just been discharged from hospital to a house with no food.
Weymouth Foodbank had 17 clients, of which seven were new and included families with small children.
While Dorchester Poverty Action Group had two requests for emergency small grants.
A Weymouth woman, who did not wish to named, told the Echo about her financial struggles.
She said: “I am really struggling at the moment and I am on benefits. I’m worried about food cost, I can only afford to spend £15 a week on food.
“I know there is help out there but my mum buys me some food if she can but even that makes me feel ashamed.”
She added: “I would like our MPs to know what it is like to live in the real world, it is really tough and it is getting worse.”
Ms Barker added: “The numbers of people struggling are rising and we all need to be aware.
“Changes in the benefit system have left more and more people without food and heating, the situation will only get worse.
“In Dorset, it is worse because many people struggling are isolated, it could be your next door neighbour and you don't even know.
She added: “Many people have faced benefit cuts and others are forced into jobs with such low pay they were better off when they were on benefits.”
Benefit system changes has seen council tax benefit replaced by local support schemes administered by councils, with the government giving 10 per cent less funding than the previous system.
THE UK’s biggest food crisis charity The Trussell Trust revealed that more than 350,000 people turned to food banks for help last year.
This figure is almost triple the number who received food aid in the previous year and 100,000 more than anticipated, according to the charity.
The Trussell Trust said the dramatic increase in the use of its food banks was set to continue in the coming months as poorer families struggle financially as a result of the government’s welfare reforms.
Calls are being made for donations of non-perishable food to local food banks.
Food can be dropped at the Weymouth and Portland Food Bank at 18 The Esplanade, Weymouth, every Tuesday and Friday from 10.30am to 12.30pm.
Call 0753 1167465 for more information.
Donations can be dropped at the Dorchester Food Bank at The Dorford Centre every Monday between noon and 2pm or Wednesday and Fridays from 10.30am to noon.
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