The Support Hub is always well used by those in need, but the current rise in utility bills and the general cost of living has seen a dramatic increase in individuals requesting our support. We have had a marked rise in appointment requests, from people who have already accessed our café service but have not previously reached out for other assistance.
More and more of these meetings involve very distressed and anxious individuals coming along with a pile of unopened bills, sometimes on the verge of eviction, and often with debt agencies banging at their door. This is very frightening for anyone, but when you suffer from existing mental health conditions, it can hugely exacerbate those issues.
As a result, we also have an influx of people needing urgent counselling – to the point where we are looking for more qualified counsellors to volunteer to spend some time with our clients. In an attempt to decrease people’s debts, we are working with their utility agencies to devise affordable payment plans.
There is also a rise in younger people finding themselves homeless as parental relationships, tenancies and supported accommodation break down – resulting in rough sleeping, hidden homelessness (where one or two people camp out of town), and individuals sleeping in their cars. Those that sleep in their cars generally end up losing their cars due to the hike in petrol prices and car parking costs, resulting in numerous parking tickets that they are unable to pay.
We do have a small number of service users who drive, and this enables them to access Sanctus from the remote surrounding villages, and in some cases use their vehicles to get to work. With the high petrol prices, they are struggling to make ends meet, and sustain their work (which often involves driving), making it even more difficult for them to access Sanctus without additional support. Some of these individuals have mobility issues, so a car is paramount to them getting out and about for food, company and support.
If you are a qualified counsellor and would be interested in giving Sanctus some of your time as a volunteer (2 hours plus per week), we would love to hear from you. Please email our Hub Support Manager Emma at: Emma.Hughes@Sanctus-Home.com.