“Riverside’s funding and support has helped me a lot with financial support to ensure we could heat our home and eat. They helped me and my partner live by helping us eat when times get tough with money situations.” Lucy*
Lucy* and her partner moved into a Riverside property in late December 2021.
What should have been a really exciting time for them suddenly became a period of high anxiety and stress when they unfortunately both lost their jobs the week they moved in.
Having been let go from their jobs just after Christmas, they struggled to make the rent from their wages and partial Universal Credit claim. With rent arrears building up, they were hit with an unexpectedly high energy bill and left unable to make payments and make ends meet. The situation severely affected Lucy’s partner who had relocated from the south and was left feeling isolated with her mental health deteriorating.
Unfortunately, Lucy and her partner’s story is not an unfamiliar one, as rising food and energy costs are forcing households up and down the country to make difficult decisions with heating and eating this winter.
In August, Riverside commissioned an independent survey which asked our customers to tell us about their experiences of the cost of living crisis, how it is impacting their lives and what additional support they may need.
The results were very concerning with 64% of the 3,419 customers we spoke to told us they don’t have any savings to fall back on to cope with the rising cost of living. 4 in 10 of our customers told us that they are planning to skip meals to cope with the rising cost of food and 58% of families with children have told us they will skip meals to enable their children to eat.
The Riverside Group is investing over £2.5m every year to fund tenancy sustainment services on top of existing money advice, employment and affordable warmth services.
This money helps support the work of our Housing Sustainment Officers who work with customers at risk of homelessness and those with multiple economic or social needs to sustain their accommodation.
Stephanie, one of Riverside’s Tenancy Sustainment Officers, worked closely with Lucy and her partner. She met with them in January and helped them get on top of their debts, to set up a budget, access grants and discounts and put them in touch with Riverside’s Affordable Warmth and Employment and Training advice teams.
As a result, they have managed to establish payment plans to pay off their rent arrears and outstanding debt. Stephanie has also helped them to access support from a local food bank, a one-off grant from Riverside’s Helping Hands fund and employment and training advice.
Lucy has now started a full-time role within the NHS and her partner has been awarded the Limited for Work Capability Element within the Universal Credit claim.
As part of Riverside’s £2.5m tenancy sustainment fund, we have set aside £500,000 annually for a Helping Hands Fund. This fund enables us to support households facing challenges with one-off assistance.
Our Tenancy Sustainment Teams can make applications to access the fund on behalf of our customers and as part of this process may also refer into our Money Advice Team for further assistance where required.
To find out more about this service, visit www.riverside.org.uk/letstalkmoney
*For confidentiality reasons we have used an assumed name.