Locality, a Good Finance partner, supports local community organisations to be strong and successful.

Lewis Garland, Content and Media Officer for Locality, explores the impact of the cost of living crisis on their members and the users they serve.  

Locality are proud to work with thousands of local charities and community organisations across the country. Many Locality members are based in areas of high deprivation, facing multiple interrelated challenges - from high unemployment and crime rates, to poor housing and health.  
The services these organisations provide are absolutely essential. These are the people listening to their community and doing everything they can to help them meet their basic needs – from housing to food. 
Over the last couple of months, we’ve been speaking to our members about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. Their answers paint a harrowing picture with some already being forced to shut their doors. Vital frontline services, such as food and fuel banks, are stretched to breaking point - struggling to keep up with rapidly rising demands.  

  • 71% of respondents said that their financial position had deteriorated in the last six months.  
  • Just over a third (38%) of respondents believe they may be forced to close or significantly reduce their services in the next six months. 

Our members, and charities and social enterprises across the country, are particularly concerned about the impact of the crisis on their most vulnerable and isolated people. 92% of respondents of a recent members survey expressed concern about the effect of increased poverty on their service users. 


How the cost of living crisis is impacting people and communities: 

  • Rising energy costs are forcing families to go without: Nik Chapman, CEO of Charles Burrell Centre in Thetford described the repercussions of the crisis, explaining that their users were resorting to dangerous measures such as turning off fridges to reduce their use of electricity. Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that poverty is deepening in the UK, with an increasing number of families forced to go without essentials.

  • A rapid jump in food insecurity: Research from The Food Foundation estimated that a whopping 57% of UK households are cutting back on food or missing meals due to rising food costs. Dianne Williams, CEO of Moat House Community Trust in Coventry told us that they have witnessed a huge spike in people using their food pantry, “Grub hub”, including many people in full time employment. 
  • The link between financial wellbeing and mental wellbeing: Poor financial situations have a direct detrimental effect on an individual’s mental health. Pat McGeever, CEO of Health for All in Leeds, believes that the dearth of support schemes or grants has meant the current crisis has hit harder, faster and deeper than covid.  Pat is concerned about the ripple effect of the cost-of-living crisis on people’s mental health. 

At Good Finance and Locality, we believe that charities and social enterprises must be listened to. These are the people who are seeing the true impact of the crisis, and how it is affecting households and comunities across the UK. 

Health for all

Using social investment as part of a wider financial toolkit

Crew Energy, who we featured last year in our Building Back Greener blog, took on social investment in the form of a community share offer in 2020, describing it as ‘transformative’ and as ‘moving them to the next level in their growth process.’ Since then, they’ve added some further funding to their financial toolkit, supporting their SWLEAP project which provides energy advice to anyone in fuel poverty within the London Boroughs they serve. 

“CREW has received funding from the Redress Fund to support our cost of living project, SW LEAP. The funding allows us to deliver pop up energy advice events, home visits and  a telephone helpline across three boroughs of SW London. We are currently managing 60 home visits per month and have assisted over 600 people in our first year.” 

- Toby Costin, Director at CREW London

Support and getting involved...

To help organisations cope with the rapidly rising costs, Locality recently launched a Cost of Living resource hub. The hub is accessible to all (not just Locality members) and includes advice and support with finance, energy, assets, HR, legal advice, food provision and help for individuals. 
Given the challenging wider environment and increased demand on services, more and more organisations will need to consider their financial resilience and sustainability. Whilst social investment may not always be the right tool, it is one of the tools in your toolbox. If you’d like to find out more about diversifying your income and exploring alternative forms of funding, head over to the Good Finance “is it right for us” tool to see if social investment could be right for you. 

Ultimately, we know that these resources and tools alone will not be enough to alleviate the pressure on community organisations as they navigate the daunting challenges facing them over the winter months. 
For this reason, we are campaigning, with partners across the sector, for additional targeted support for frontline organisations as soon as possible. Good Finance remain committed to listening to users, giving them a platform to share their experiences, and working with social investors to develop a response. 

Locality is calling for the Government to:  
1) Provide targeted grants for frontline community organisations, distributed quickly. 
2) Put in place an energy efficiency programme for community buildings to bring down long-term costs 
If you’d like to find out how to get involved, check out Locality's influencing work.