Home Knowsley Better Together How the Knowsley Better Together Fund is supporting residents
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How the Knowsley Better Together Fund is supporting residents

by Jonathan Kearney

The £2.5m Knowsley Better Together Fund launched in April 2021, supporting residents who need it the most by ensuring they get the right support at the right time.

We’ve already heard how the fund has provided a ‘lifeline’ for a family who needed support with housing costs and were awarded a Discretionary Housing payment.

More residents and families have recently benefitted from the fund. They were identified through organisations and community groups, who are working ‘on the ground’ with residents can easily identify the issues and challenges they face.

Flourish and Succeed CIC is a well established support group in Knowsley helping residents to achieve their goals through having a positive mindset, health and fitness and has been working with and supporting a range of families across the Borough.

This has included referring families into the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund for items such as school uniforms for families whose income has been severely impacted over the last 18 months due to COVID and had previously sourced additional money to pay for such essential items by using loan sharks.

In addition, in Huyton, a need was identified for packed lunches to support children’s activities over the school summer holidays being arranged through St Columbus primary school. Thanks to the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund, children are not only being kept active over the school holidays, but they are also receiving a nutritious lunch too.

Flourish and Succeed CIC are also one of the organisations and groups that are identifying residents who are in need of essentials such as food. They have been issuing food vouchers for a local supermarket.

Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “We know that COVID has had a detrimental impact on many residents and families. We have listened to the issues they are facing and through our £2.5m Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund, we will support as many residents as we can to get back onto their feet after 18 months of disruption and challenges. It’s thanks to our partners, charities and community groups who are working closely with our residents that we can ensure they get the right support at the right time.”

Mental health support is also a key priority for the Knowsley Better Together Fund. Funding has been allocated for the Flourish and Succeed Men’s Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Support Group. The Group recently arranged a “walk and talk” session to Rivington Pike earlier this month with healthy pack lunches also provided for the group. Exercise and socialising are key drivers to boosting mental health and further “walk and talk” sessions will be arranged. To find out more about the support provided by the group, email flourishandsucceed@outlook.com

Shelley Ward, Managing Director at Flourish and Succeed added: “Our residents have needed our support more than ever throughout the pandemic and by working in partnership with Knowsley Council and the wider Knowsley Better Together partners, we can ensure targeted support is delivered when and where it needs to be. Many people don’t want to ask for help so the benefit of the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund is that they don’t have to ask – agencies and groups like us know our communities and know what support is needed. It’s great to support such a positive initiative, ensuring Knowsley residents and communities can recover from this pandemic and once again thrive.”

The fund is providing support in the following ways:-

  • Food and essentials distributed through the Borough’s community and voluntary organisations.
  • Funding to support Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s Winter Warmth and Safe Heating schemes.
  • Emergency boiler and central heating repairs for eligible residents (including those on benefits and low income).
  • Fuel vouchers for eligible residents.
  • Children’s Services will also be able to support vulnerable families and improve home conditions and provide support around utility or personal needs, helping them to maintain tenancies.
  • More personal financial advice will be available through additional welfare benefit caseworker posts created in the community and voluntary sector.
  • An additional Money Advisor role will be created within the Council offering specialist support to residents who apply to the Council for financial assistance.
  • Specialist financial support for residents with mental health needs will be provided working with the community sector and health partners.
  • Funding will also be allocated to support Council Tax debt.
  • The Council’s Emergency Support Scheme will also continue to offer residents short-term assistance in relation to food, fuel and furniture.
  • People who are privately renting and have fallen behind with their rent will also be able to access support, ensuring they do not risk becoming homeless.
  • Support will also be provided to residents in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit through the Discretionary Housing Payment Scheme.
  • Residents who have been long-term unemployed but supported into employment will receive support through the Knowsley Works team with the offer of a ‘bridging payment’ until they receive their first wage.

Residents are referred to the Knowsley Better Together Hardship Fund through partner agencies as well as the Council’s own Benefits service. Organisations across the Borough are currently working with vulnerable families, so know where and what support is needed within our communities. You can find useful information around Financial advice and supportBenefits and Emergency Support Scheme.

The fund is available until 31 March 2022.