07 Sep 2022

The help gap: directing residents to resources has become all of our jobs now

The impacts of the cost of living crisis are being felt across British society and for millions this means being pushed into poverty. As the October rise in the energy price cap looms, food prices and inflation rocket and recession predictions are made, the situation for the UK population looks set to worsen. With 14.5 million people already living in poverty in the UK, available support is getting stretched thinner than ever.

“The threshold for what’s acceptable (in terms of support) is going lower and lower all the time. It’s hard not to feel at capacity and it’s hard not to feel like this is the calm before the storm.” Morgan Wild, Head of policy for Citizens Advice

In response to growing need, housing providers across the country are establishing or strengthening hardship funds for residents in distress, typically offering one-off payments for essential costs.

Communities themselves are also stepping into the breach with Community Solidarity Funds that give grants financed by community donations to those in need who apply - no questions asked and without means testing. They are there to help households who are in crisis without judgement, stigma, or bureaucracy.

“We believe everyone is owed the dignity to make their own choices without oversight.” Newham Community Solidarity Fund

Both housing providers and community funds are admirably doing what is needed to support those in acute difficulties. What is clear however, is that more centralised, long-term support is essential if the population is to weather this crisis.

It has been reported that in the UK over £15 billion of benefits are being left unclaimed. In the ‘Surviving but not living’ report from the Resident Voice Index™, results showed that over half (56%) of respondents didn’t know that help or support would be available to them if they faced a financial struggle.

A fragmented support landscape and complex eligibility and application processes mean that many are missing out on the help that could see them through the coming months. Organisations with support to offer often struggle to reach those in need and without concerted awareness campaigns, these pots can be left largely untouched.

When time is of the essence, these knowledge gaps need to be filled – and fast. The Lightning Reach portal, set up during the Covid-19 pandemic, aims to connect available funding to those in need. The portal brings a range of support from across sectors into one secure system, matching those in financial hardship with the support that they are eligible for and enabling simple applications through the portal.

With over 10,000 users currently on the pilot system and over £1 million of funding awarded, the portal is streamlining the way that people access financial support and crucially, enabling organisations to accelerate impact securely.

“It’s finding people that would never have found us, which is a good thing.” Lightning Reach partner organisation

Do you have available support that isn’t getting accessed? Lightning Reach are currently looking for partners throughout the UK to engage with the portal and ensure their funds make it to those that need them. Find out more here.

Written by Rebecca Fraser

Rebecca is works as an account director at us marketing, providing communication and marketing support to the Residents Voice Index.