National charity, Acts 435, braces itself for increasing requests for help as the energy cap is lifted with many individuals and families already struggling to pay essential bills.
Acts 435 is a direct giving charity which enables donors to give to a specific need for an individual or family. Over the last two years the charity has seen a doubling in the amount of needs that their donors are fulfilling. But as the cost of living continues to increase the charity foresees more individuals and families going without basic essentials to meet the demands from the rising costs of utilities and food.
Jenny Herrera, Executive Director said: “A third of people in poverty have less than £250 in savings.* Where are they going to turn? In the past there might have been more grants available but so many of them have been stripped away in the last decade of austerity. We do expect to see more and more people turning to a charity like ours to get support for the basic essentials because they have no buffer when costs rise or a crisis occurs.”
In the last two years Acts 435 has helped 14,000 people. Of those helped with specific items, over 4,000 of them said that one of the main reasons for seeking help was that they were struggling with bills and debt. This is a rise on the previous two years (2018/19), a trend that the charity knows will escalate as peoples’ budgets are squeezed tighter with the increase in the cost of living.
J, a single mother from Hastings, is struggling to make ends meet and pay the normal bills of everyday living. After giving up work due to health at the end of 2021, she and her four boys have been using their local food bank. She described feeling on her ‘last legs’ before Acts 435 donors stepped in to help to pay her living expenses, including fresh food. J then said: “it is already hard as it is, and with it feeling like odds are usually against us, it really was a welcome turn of events, it has literally been a life saver”.
Like many, J had no savings to fall back on, and had hit a crisis to pay her mortgage, bills and food for her family. In helping to provide her with a one-off gift, until her benefits began, her “desperation has been lifted and [she has been] given a bit of room to think and make sure everything is in order.” Those seeking the help of Acts 435 are often in desperate situations, and the lifting of the energy cap this week will only exacerbate their struggle further.
If the increase in those seeking help through Acts 435 follows the same trend as at the onset of the pandemic, the charity could see up to 1,000 needs for individuals posted onto their website each month, which would require a surge in generosity from individual donors across the UK. Historically, people have faithfully given to support people who find themselves in need, but with donors also feeling the pinch of increased costs, it feels like a challenging spell could be ahead for the charity.