ForHousing has been able to work with 531 families in Stockbridge Village affected by the Covid pandemic to provide access to food, fuel and other vital items during the winter months.
Tackling poverty is a key priority for ForHousing and by working with Knowsley Council, the landlord was able to take part in the government’s £170m Covid Winter Grant scheme and provide assistance for households hit hardest.
As well as helping out with food and household bills, the scheme paid for essential sanitary products, nappies and even a new washing machine for one family to ensure that school uniforms could be washed.
“It is very difficult to put into words how much this grant has supported tenants,” said Matt Anderton, Income Officer at ForHousing.
“It has taken the tenants by surprise in relation to how quickly they got help and I am sure it has had a positive impact on tenants’ mental health.”
ForHousing was allocated £25,000 by Knowsley Council and used it to help 281 families with children, and 250 individuals or families without children.
One tenant, Mrs Jones*, saw her husband and 32-year-old daughter both diagnosed with cancer on the same day. All three of them were off work and only on statutory sick pay – and the scheme was able to help with vouchers for food and fuel.
“The staff at ForHousing have been so helpful,” Mrs Jones said. “My family and I are so grateful.
“Our current circumstances have been a huge strain. We have had to pay £800 rent monthly without both wages coming in and were looking after two adults and two children.
“I would have struggled to feed my family and heat my home. The money from the fund has taken a massive part of the stress and worry away.”
The project is part of the Knowsley Better Together approach which brings people and organisations together for the benefit of residents and the wider borough.
Martyn Hague, Director of Neighbourhoods at ForHousing said: “If we want to improve lives then we must find ways to tackle poverty and address the widening inequalities that have been highlighted by the pandemic.
“Partnership working is essential to this and this initiative with Knowsley Council is creating possibilities for those who have been feeling the impact of the pandemic most.
“The stories of people like Mrs Jones brings homes how difficult the pandemic has been for so many families.
“We will continue to do all we can to work collaboratively to find new and innovative ways to make more things possible for more people.”
Cllr Jayne Aston, Cabinet Member for Resources, added “We know that our residents have been managing increased pressures throughout this pandemic including financial, emotional and health-related issues, and it’s essential that residents who need our help and support the most, get it. Having access to the basics such as food and heating, has been a key priority for all partners across the borough and I’m delighted to hear from the residents who have benefited from the COVID Winter Grant scheme and the positive impact it has had on their lives.”
*name changed to protect the identity of the tenant