This summer many families will still be struggling with the financial impacts of covid, but support is there for them says the City Council.
More households are struggling financially now than before the pandemic, with data showing that in Oxford unemployment claims more than doubled from 2,040 in December 2019 to 4,705 in December 2020. Many of those that were already struggling have more worries around employment, childcare, food and bills despite the economy reopening.
Council services and community groups are able to provide support for those who are worried about how they will cope.
Making it easier to tackle problems
The Council’s locality hubs provide a ‘wrap around’ service where they work with individuals or families to get the right support for them from the council as well as linking in other partner agencies or community partners where appropriate. This means that instead of having to deal separately with teams such as the housing team, the council tax team, the Youth Ambition team, they can discuss their situation with an experienced community worker who will make sure they get straight to the right support.
“When we get a call from a resident, we know they are already under pressure to have made that call. Our job is to act as a one stop shop for the help they need from the council and our partners. We co-ordinate the different services and work with community organisation so they don’t need to call each one separately. Typically someone might call to ask about food support, but by talking to them we could find they need help with utility costs too, summer holiday support for their children or even just looking for someone to speak to on a regular basis or a volunteer to help with a practical task. We’ll co-ordinate that for them, and help them find longer term support too.”
Azul Corcoran Strong, one of the City Council Locality Hub co-ordinators
“For those that were already financially insecure, this pandemic has been devastating. We want to support residents where we can, alongside our community partners, to tackle financial insecurity and the immediate issues that it presents them.
“Anyone who is struggling can get in touch with our locality hubs, who can help get them a range of council support. We can also refer people on to our fantastic community groups and charities who provide specialist support for particular issues like debt management and food support.
“If you are struggling, please get in touch. You aren’t alone, and we are here to support you.”
Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities
To contact a locality hub, call the council on 01865 249 811
Information about support for those having to self-isolate can also be found on the City Council web site
Financial advice and support
Individual issues like food poverty are often a symptom of financial difficulties. Advice centres across the city can help by offering support with managing debt, switching to cheaper services, and providing information on where to get financial support and essentials like food. Advice centres in Oxford include Citizens Advice Centre, Barton Advice Centre, Rose Hill & Donnington Advice Centre, Agnes Smith Advice Centre, Better Homes Better Health, Oxford City Council Energy Advice Team and the Locality Hubs.
For many people struggling, one of the most urgent worries is providing enough meals each day. Community food support from Oxford’s community larders offers a long-term option to supplement supermarket groceries with affordable fresh and store-cupboard goods. There are six volunteer run larders across the city which offer access to surplus food, through low cost weekly memberships, starting at £3.50 for an individual or £7 for a family. More food options are available on the Council’s low cost food page.
This summer, school holiday activities are also ensuring children are able to get a free meal when they attend. The holiday activities are not only for children who are on free school meals, they are open for anyone to register for available places.
School holiday activities also help working parents, providing a safe place for children in the day where they can meet friends, learn new skills, and catch up on skills they’ve missed out on during lockdown.