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Support Fund returns to help residents in need

Further support for households to tackle the cost of living is now available following the award of £2.6 million to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council.

The government-funded BCP Household Support Fund (HSF) will support vulnerable households over a six-month period until 30 September 2024, focusing on costs associated with food, energy and household essentials.

BCP Council is working closely with partners to help households most in need.

Citizens Advice Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) will be issuing Household Support Fund grants on behalf of the council to provide short-term financial support for low-income households struggling with food and energy bills. Applications for the fund open on Monday 20 May until Monday 17 June.

Funds have also been allocated to provide a small grants scheme for the voluntary and community sector, administered through Dorset Community Foundation.

Councillor Millie Earl, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Connected Communities said:

“The cost-of-living crisis remains with us, with many residents experiencing financial difficulty, especially with the increase in the cost of food and fuel.

"The Household Support Fund has provided a lifeline for many of our residents, and this six-month funding will help us support residents in financial need through our grant scheme, along with the school holiday vouchers for school children and under-fives.

“We value the incredible work that local community groups and charitable organisations are doing to support those in need and welcome the reopening of BCP Food and Energy Fund for grant applications from Dorset Community Foundation to help fund community activities to support residents most in need.”

Over the last year, grants totalling £400,000 were awarded to benefit local communities, directly supporting 26,771 local residents.

The BCP Food and Energy Support Fund is now open for applications from the community and voluntary sector to fund a variety of cost-of-living initiatives until the end of September. The deadline to apply for grants of up to £8,500 is 7 June.

The school holiday food support scheme to help families with children will be available through schools and Family Information Service for eligible under-fives. Food vouchers will be provided to eligible children, young people and their families during May half-term and the summer holidays.

To help households save energy and keep warm in their homes, residents can access help and guidance from Ridgewater Energy. This includes energy advice home visits and money saving advice booklets, as well as additional energy support for eligible residents.

Zoe Bradley, Chief Executive Office for Citizens Advice Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole said:

“The extension of the Household Support Fund to 30 September 2024 will be a further lifeline for vulnerable households across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole who are continuing to face challenges in meeting essential living costs for food, utilities, and clothing.

“Alongside BCP Council colleagues and partner charities, Citizens Advice has been lobbying for an extension to the fund which has to-date been accessed by thousands of vulnerable households across BCP since the fund was introduced in October 2021.

“The ongoing impact of high essential living costs continue to have a devastating impact on those already struggling to make ends meet.

“Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole are committed in continuing the combined collaborative effort to support vulnerable individuals and households across BCP, and would like to thank the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole community for their patience and support as more and more of our neighbours reach out for help”.

Grant Robson, Director of Dorset Community Foundation added:

“We are very pleased to continue our working relationship with BCP Council. We are delighted that, because we can tailor our programmes to meet our donors and partners’ exact requirements, we are able to deliver funding that meets the council’s objectives. It means that this money makes the biggest possible impact by going to the grass roots groups who are working so hard to meet the ever-increasing need in their communities.

“All of the projects funded through this partnership are making a massive difference and because of it there are thousands of families and individuals who will be better cared for and made to feel a valued part of their community.”

Citizens Advice BCP will continue to support eligible low-income local families who are struggling with their food and energy bills, offering advice and guidance.

Residents can also access cost-of-living information at our libraries.

 

The Household Support Grant vouchers will be offered to residents by Citizens Advice in two rounds: opening for applications on 20 May and 22 July. Find out more: Household Support Fund | BCP (bcpcouncil.gov.uk)

Community and voluntary organisations can find out more about the small grants and apply: BCP Food and Energy Support Fund - Dorset Community Foundation

Support from Citizen’s Advice: Home - Citizens Advice Bournemouth Christchurch & Poole (citizensadvicebcp.org.uk)

School holiday vouchers are administered by children’s school. Eligible families with children under five can apply through Family Information Service: Request for May 2024 holiday food vouchers - Household Support Fund (office.com)

Free Energy and Money Advice booklets from Ridgewater Energy are available here and in a wide range of community venues. More information about how Ridgewater Energy can help you: Ridgewater Energy | Leaders in the energy efficiency, info@ridgewaterenergy.co.uk or phone 01202 612726.