Exeter charity seeks views on how best to support people during cost-of-living crisis

Local charity, Exeter Community Initiatives (ECI), is seeking views on how it can work together with other charities to best support people during the cost- of-living crisis.

The charity, works in Exeter and across Devon, helping people facing poverty, inequality and homelessness to get their lives back on track. It does this by involving them in community projects to improve their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, increase their sense of belonging and provide skills to help them succeed in life.

ECI, along with other charities, will face increased demand over the next 12-18 months as the cost-of-living crisis sees more and more people struggle financially resulting in increased mental health issues. To help address this, ECI is inviting other charities, partners and members of the public to its Annual Review meeting on Wednesday, 16 November between 5-7pm at Palace Gate, Exeter where there will be an open discussion on how organisations can work together to best support people during the cost-of-living crisis.

Steven Chown, Chief Executive of ECI, which has a long track record of working in partnership with other charities, said: “We’re already feeling the impact of the cost- of-living crisis on the work we do. And with interest rates rising, energy prices soaring and food billsincreasing, it’s only going to get worse over the next 12-18 months and people and communities will suffer. This will present us with huge challenges going forward, so we want to work with other charities and partners to ensure we help where it matters most and support people through this difficult time.”

Several of ECI’s projects are already feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. Takings are up at Jelly, its children’s charity shop in Fore Street, as more and more people look to buy preloved, low-cost clothes for their little ones. Its Devon Family Resource project – which helps families with children aged 0-18 facing challenges and hardships such as social isolation, breakdown in family relationships, recovery from crime, parenting issues, housing problems and debt – is busier than ever and is in the process of recruiting more staff.

And it’s Community Builders, who are out and about across Exeter’s 13 wards, listening to people and helping turn bright ideas, like community gardens and little libraries, into reality; report back the cost of living crisis – coming so soon after the Covid19 pandemic – has left people feeling anxious and worried about finances and their physical and mental health.

During 2021-22 ECI:

  • Supported 125 families with 285 children and 217 adults with 1:1 support & practical advice
  • Supported 41 new community groups & 65 existing groups. Held over £6K in funds for 8 groups & helped secure £92,660 funding
  • Its Community Builders helped move 579 residents’ ideas into action & supported 127 groups with new initiatives. They were involved in 560 events & activities and carried out 1922 listenings across all 13 wards in Exeter
  • 51 volunteers gave 2,003 hours of their time to ECI’s Transitions project and Jelly charity shop, equating to £19,829 in volunteer time