With the uplift to UC stopping at the end of September, prices rising – particularly gas and electric – and the colder months now upon us it’s time to start thinking about saving some money where you can.

Don’t be shy or let pride get in the way of accessing help that’s out there!! And don’t think “there’s probably others worse off out there” If you need a helping hand you need a hand!

FOOD

 Foodbanks are a valuable source of help and you can find your local one here: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/

The food parcels are free and contain loads of different foods. They also take into consideration the size of your family and if you have pets too. Some require you to have a referral slip and these can be obtained from CAB, local councillors, Job Centres and some GPs too.

There are also Community Fridges dotted all over now too – these are free and are stocked with items that supermarkets can no longer sell but are perfectly ok to eat. Lots of bread, fresh fruit and veg, often ready meals and the like. Find your local one here: https://www.hubbub.org.uk/the-community-fridge

The Community Fridge initiative is much more about less food waste and less food going to landfill but of course will also save you money!

There are also food projects such as the Burrell Shop in Thetford popping up all over the UK now too. They may be called a Food Pantry, a Food Club, A Citizens or Community Supermarket or similar. Usually you have to be a member to shop but sign up is non intrusive. Once a member you can generally save 30 to 60% on your shopping. The Burrell Shop has tinned, fresh and frozen goods as well as personal care items and cleaning products as well as pet foods available all at rock bottom prices for example  If you look t the Feeding Britain website you’ll get a good idea of anything like this near to you! These shops often have staff and volunteers that know a great deal about other sources of help and often help with form filling and looking at things on line etc.

There is also a fab project called FEEDING FAMILIES FUND which matches up families in need of Christmas Hampers with wealthy families in the area to ensure everyone has a wonderful, wholesome Christmas.  Click here for info: https://feedingfamilies.org.uk/give/information

Gas and Electricity

If you have a top up meter for gas and or electric and are having a bit of a crisis moment with ££’s please also be aware that The Fuelbank Foundation are available to help. During Summer Months they can offer £30 and winter months £49. This is a gift and not to be paid back. You choose to spend it all on gas, all on electric or a bit on both.  You can se if there’s one local to you here: https://www.fuelbankfoundation.org/our-delivery-funding-partners/  CAB often are involved with The Fuel Bank Foundation. Billie , our Honorary Treasurer runs the Burrell Shop and can help too – contact her on billie@charlesburrellcentre,org.uk if there isn’t a fuelbank near you.

With energy process no doubt rising for most of us, and smaller companies going bust there are a couple of things you should be aware of.

If your energy provider goes bust and you think you are in credit with them DO NOT jump ship – wait for the government appointed provider to step in. You’ll be allocated a provider and the credit you had accrued with the other company “should” follow. It may not be immediate, but will be handled in a timely manner. Your gas and electric WILL NOT be turned off during this time.

If you have no accrued credit you can look to move yourself but beware of the deals being offered and ensure they include current October price rises and ask if you are safe guarded against the likely price hike in March or April of next year.

If you are in credit and are asked to increase your direct debit you can ask for this not to happen and “negotiate” a lower increase.  If you are currently not in credit and are not on a fixed price tariff then it may be worth paying a larger amount for at least a few moths to help combat the fuel price rise. You can of course always ask for ALL of your credit to be returned to you. Many of the smaller companies rely on you having banked up credit for their cash flow and this is why so many are falling by the wayside right now sadly.

Many of the comparison sites are not offering searches currently as too many providers are not stable with their offerings or cash flow. Many companies cannot take on new clients currently as they are themselves not signed up for long term price deals themselves. It’s also worth remembering that not all energy companies are on the search companies websites either as you have to pay the likes of Money Supermarket to feature in their comparisons. Look after my bills are similar in that they only compare from a small offering of companies who pay to feature.

Have a look at energy saving websites regarding the small changes we can all make to help save a bit here and there on our gas and electric. Turn your thermostat down a degree or two, pop your washing on overnight, try not to use tumble dryers, don’t leave games consoles and tvs etc “on standby” and invest n LED bulbs if you can. Don’t fill your kettle to the brim if you are only making one cup of tea is another good way to save too.  Think about popping a jumper on as many of our parents would have said!

Other forms of help such as warm home discount (£140 a year) can be found here: https://www.fuelbankfoundation.org/individuals/

If you would like Billie to look at what your utilities would be with Utility Warehouse (UW) then please do get in touch with her on bkins1971@gmail.com this is a no pressure no obligation look at your gas, electric and more and if she can help save you money you can choose to sign up and the company then look after the switch for you. UW have signed 20 year contracts for energy supply themselves and are happy to be taking on additional clients at this time and offering the best deals to each individual they can. In fact if you take all services such as mobiles, internet with UW they are offering a save money promise!

Hygiene Banks

Like Food Banks but providing personal care, house cleaning and clothes washing products as well as period products for free to those who need a bit of a helping hand. These items are offered for free to the person/family. You can find your nearest one here: https://thehygienebank.com/locations/

Share Info

If anyone is struggling then our SB group is ace for asking for advice. If you’d rather not ask in public then email hello@steelbones.co.uk and we can ask the question for you to see what advice others have and answer you privately too should we know the answer or have info that may point you in the right direction.

Don’t struggle alone. Times may get tough but help is usually out there.