Cost of Living Grant Case Studies
Our Cost of Living Grant Scheme is all about funding projects in the Winchester District that support our residents with challenges that have been brought about or made worse by the rising costs of living.
There are some fantastic organisations out there that are well-placed to provide support - whether that's helping people with finances, improving awareness around saving energy, boosting social inclusion or promoting access to IT or transport.
We caught up with some of the grant's recipients to ask them about their experience with applying for the grant, and find out how the funding has boosted their support programmes:
MHA Communities - Warm Spaces Project
MHA communities Winchester is one of the organisations to have recently received money through our cost-of-living grant scheme. The charity provides support and group activities to older people throughout the district, and has made use of the funds to launch a Warm Spaces project that can be accessed by anyone over the age of 60.
Speaking about their cost of living work, Anna from MHA Communities said:
"We launched our ‘Warm Spaces’ project on 11th January, since then we have held two sessions a week every Wednesday and Friday afternoon. At MHA Communities Winchester we work to support older people living in the local community to help maintain their independence and we have been hearing from many of those we support about their growing concerns around the cost of living crisis, particularly in regard to heating bills. We were aware of other organisations nationally setting up Warm Hubs and we felt this was something that we could look to offer as well. As we operate from a very central and accessible location in Winchester, we felt we had the right infrastructure in place to easily incorporate the ‘Warm Space’s project into our offering of services.
"We heard about the grant fund after attending the Winchester City Council Cost of Living Summit in November. We had already had thoughts about running a ‘Warm Spaces’ project but had yet to identify a suitable funding opportunity to make it a viable proposal so it launched at exactly the right time for us.
"The ‘Warm Space’ sessions are available free of charge for any person over the age of 60, regardless of whether they are members of MHA Communities Winchester. We offer a space which is not only warm and welcoming but also an opportunity to socialise and relax with a hot drink and light snacks. Attendees have access to games, reading materials and WiFi, as well as support with IT if needed.
"We are also providing access to information and signposting regarding benefits, other local services and support options, and we have invited other local organisations to come along and meet with people as part of the project. Transport can be provided for those who are unable to reach us via public transport due to cost, geography or accessibility needs.
"Applying for the grant was very straightforward, the application form itself was very short and the grants team were keen to work with us to ensure our project submission met the grant criteria. We received confirmation of the success of our application within a short time frame which meant we were quickly able to get the project up and running.
Winchester Young Carers - Transport Support
Winchester Young Carers is a charity working with young carers aged 8 - 17 in the Winchester district, providing them and their families with wide-ranging support, whether it's to do with education and skills, wellness, social inclusion, or time to have fun. Rising living costs led to concern that the charity's volunteers wouldn't be able to continue the great work they do due to petrol expenses - that's where the Cost of Living Grant came in.
Speaking about the project, Lisa from Winchester Young Carers said:
"I attended the COL conference that Winchester City Council (WCC) had set up. It was a great chance to be updated and hear about the huge challenges that families are facing. I didn’t quite see how it fitted for young carers initially, but it dawned on me that with some young carers dropping out, and more requests for help with transport to get to our activities over recent months, this was something affecting our young carers' families, too. The Citizens Advice Bureau talked about the cost of living really affecting families with long-term disabilities- it occurred to me that families of young carers might be really struggling financially, but may not feel able to share this
"With the grant funding, we are ensuring that our existing volunteers can claim petrol expenses when they need to, as we don’t want to lose any of our existing volunteers due to the cost of living increases. We also intend to recruit additional volunteer drivers for the Winchester District area and offer reimbursement of petrol when needed for our term time and holiday activities that they take young carers to.
"This grant gives us confidence that we can continue to ensure young carers are able to attend our activities when they are referred to us, through enabling us to continue to support and expand our team of volunteers- thank you WCC- we are so grateful!
"The form was easy to fill out and dealt with quickly and efficiently. I did get a couple of questions in relation to my application, but as soon as I clarified a couple of things in my application, it was processed straight away. WCC staff were really helpful in answering my own questions too.
Winchester Street Reach - Warm space
Winchester Street Reach is a charity that supports young people in Winchester and the surrounding areas through activities such as weekly outreach sessions, youth club nights, drop-in projects and trips. Winchester Street Reach is open to all young people, although the charity does focus its work on those experiencing disadvantage. With the help of the Cost of Living Grant, the charity was able to support a new warm space as Unit 12 in Winchester.
Speaking about their work, Stella from Winchester Street Reach said:
We have delivered a youth club in Micheldever since 2012 - this has provided a warm and safe place for young people to go to on Monday nights. We have also delivered numerous targeted, centre-based workshops over the years since we started as a youth charity in 1983.
For the specific warm place grant due to the Cost of Living crisis, we have recently moved to Unit 12 in October of 2022 and this prompted us to use the space to provide a warm place for the vulnerable young people that we work with and to reach out to more young people in the local community.
I attended the Cost of Living forum at the end of last year which was very useful, both in terms of making contacts with WCC and partner organisations and also to hear about the specific Cost of Living Grant. It seemed to match our aims and objectives as a youth charity and we met all the criteria to apply.
The grant has gone towards delivering a warm place, safe place project at Unit 12 for young people from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. They are able to seek support from our youth worker team with any issues or problems, take part in activities and have help with homework if they wish. During the session, we have a hot, nutritious meal provided by Munch who are also based at Unit 12, which the young people can sit down to eat with the team. As well as providing a warm place to go to after school, the attendees can also have a lift to our football project in Harestock afterwards and back home in our minibus.
The participants benefit from access to our youth worker team in a warm place after school with a nutritious hot meal provided and a lift to and from our Friday football project in our minibus if they so wish. Some of the young people will be known to our team through attending our other projects or engaging with the team when out on detached youth work in their local community. However we are also hoping to reach out to new young people from the local community so that we can offer more support with the grant funding.