Four cost of living support hubs in Dudley are supporting local people with poverty relieving information and guidance on how to maximise income and save money.
The hubs were set up in January by Citizens Advice Dudley and Wolverhampton in conjunction with Dudley Empowerment Partnership and funded by Dudley Council and the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) through its Health Inequalities fund.
They offer people practical help relating to access to food, fuel and available grants and funds. By connecting people with these vital resources, the hubs have become a lifeline for those experiencing financial hardship.
To date, the hubs have supported over 6000 people in Dudley with information and guidance on ways to save money, given more than £350,000 from the council’s Household Support Fund to those eligible, and assessed and given nearly 3,000 fuel vouchers for gas and electricity worth over £140,000.
More than 3,000 period products have also been handed out, and 200 digital referrals have been made for the loan of GeoBook laptop, as part of the NHS Black Country ICBs Black Country Connected Programme.
In May, Citizens Advice Dudley and Wolverhampton also received the Commissioning Project of the Year award at this year’s West Midlands Public Health Awards, recognising their work on the cost of living support hubs in Dudley.
Neill Bucktin, Dudley Managing Director for the NHS Black Country ICB, said: “The four hubs in Dudley provide a lifeline to individuals and families who are adversely affected by the cost of living crisis and are struggling with day-to-day essentials.
“They provide support to any Dudley resident who needs help and offer immediate poverty relieving support and information on how to save money and make money stretch further, as well as practical help relating to accessing essentials such as food, fuel, benefits and available grants based on qualifying criteria.
“This is an excellent example of partnership working across Dudley and its fantastic to see that the hubs are already making a huge difference for local people.”
Councillor Ian Bevan, cabinet member for public health at Dudley Council, said: “The figures show the cost of living support hubs in the borough are helping to alleviate the immediate struggles many households are facing to put food on the table and pay their bills.
“If you are in need of help, please make an appointment and go along to your nearest one for support and advice.”
The cost of living support hubs have also given employment opportunities to 12 previously unemployed local Dudley people, many of which have additional support needs and lived experience of poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental health issues and physical disabilities. They have all thrived working in the hubs, overcoming many barriers and three hub workers have been promoted within the organisation since they have been employed.
Laura Thomas, CEO of Citizens Advice Dudley and Wolverhampton, said: “The ongoing overwhelming need for our cost of living support hubs just reinforces to us the devastating impact the cost of living crisis has and continues to be on the lives of ordinary people.
“We have supported many people from all walks of life who are struggling to make ends meet. We are proud of what the hubs have achieved to date in giving a lifeline to people in crisis and are grateful to our funders for recognising the need across Dudley Borough.”
The hubs are available by appointment only at the following locations in Dudley, open on certain days across the week, from 9.30am-3.30pm:
- Halesowen Library, Hagley Mall Cornbow Centre, Halesowen B63 4AJ
- Brierley Hill Methodist Church, 24 Bank Street, Brierley Hill DY5 3DA
- Provision House, 80-81 High Street, Dudley DY1 1PY
- Christ Church, 45, High Street, Lye, Stourbridge, DY9 8LQ
A fifth hub will be opening in October in Brockmoor and Pensnett. For more information on opening times at each location and how to book an appointment, visit Eventbrite here. For more information on the hubs, visit the Dudley Council website here.
As well as running cost of living support hubs, Citizens Advice Dudley & Wolverhampton also have a collection of leaflets available.These are full of useful information and can help those who are struggling with the cost of living, which can be viewed on the Citizens Advice website here.