Buckinghamshire charity speaks out against poverty
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Citizens Advice Bucks has spoken out against poverty, to mark Challenge Poverty Week.
Challenge Poverty Week (October 11 to 17) aims to raise awareness of poverty in England and Wales, as well as the solutions and help available, and to end the stigma of living on a low income.
Citizens Advice Bucks sees first hand just how devastating the effects of Covid have been on many people living in Bucks, with too many people struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.
In the last 12 months, the charity has issued 360 food vouchers to families in need.
Estimates from Public Health England Local Health show that there are 34,893 people in Buckinghamshire living in deprivation, and 9,161 of these are children.
Record numbers are also claiming Universal Credit - 21,436 people in Bucks - and 39 per cent of those who needed to come to Citizens Advice Bucks for a food voucher did so because they were having issues with their Universal Credit claim.
Chief executive of Citizens Advice Bucks, Thalia Jervis, said: “Across Bucks we are seeing a rise of people who are experiencing poverty.
"We know that there were many people already experiencing hardship, but the pandemic has pushed some further into financial insecurity.
"People may have had their situations made worse due to job losses or pay reductions, especially with the end of the furlough scheme, and find themselves unable to fully pay their bills.
“This is just exacerbated further due to the ever-rising cost of living.
"Energy price hikes have come into effect and, although we have been campaigning to #KeeptheLifeline, last week we saw that withdrawn.
"That £20 a week is going to be a drastic drop in income and many who will experience it will not have had to budget for its loss before.”
Throughout Challenge Poverty week, Citizens Advice Bucks will be using social media to highlight the support available to anyone who is struggling.
Communications officer Camilla Smith said: “It is important that we always make sure people know we are here to help if they are struggling.
"This is important every week, yet this #ChallengePoverty week we need to come together to raise awareness and tackle poverty.
"We need everyone to know poverty does not just mean a lack of money.
"It can be poor housing as well as difficulty in paying bills, and the detrimental effect on mental health and education, job prospects, etc, of people who are living in poverty needs to be highlighted.
"It is also important to recognise that poverty does not just affect people on benefits.
"Many people who come to us because they are struggling are actually in work”
Citizens Advice Bucks is a free and completely confidential service that can provide support and advice to anyone who is struggling.
Call the Bucks advice line on 0808 278 7938 or go to www.citizensadvicebucks.org.uk