Cost of living grant helps to support Bedford families

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A Bedford charity has been able to provide practical and emotional support to children and families under stress thanks to a cost of living grant fund.

FACES provides support to children and families facing various challenges, including mental and physical health issues, domestic abuse, poverty, child sexual exploitation, and behavioural issues. In the past year alone, the charity has seen a doubling in the number of requests for support.

They recently received £13,500 from the cost of living grant fund set up by Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board and Bedford Borough Council.

With the funding, FACES has been able to assist families dealing with the impact of the cost of living crisis, offering support on energy costs, debt advice, and benefits and housing issues.

They have also used the funds to employ family support practitioners and an administrator.

Family X’s story

One case that demonstrates the impact of FACES’ support is that of Family X, asylum seekers from Syria and Sudan. Living in a cramped and poorly ventilated one-bedroom studio flat alongside their three young children, this family received crucial support thanks to the cost of living grant. Initially, FACES provided them with food bank vouchers and access to an ethnic foodbank.

Recognising their poor living conditions, which included damp and mould, FACES organised a visit by environmental health officials who confirmed that the flat was unsuitable and overcrowded. The family was subsequently signposted to JustUs, a local organisation specialising in housing support, and they provided supporting letters to the council. The council promptly relocated the family to a more suitable three-bedroom property. Additionally, FACES assisted the family in securing funding for a new cooker and a bed for their eldest child.

Tragically, the family experienced the loss of a child. In response, FACES has been providing invaluable emotional support to help them navigate through the bereavement process. Additionally, the family’s two children are now benefiting from FACES’ family groups, which provide support and a safe space for children to play and learn from their peers. Parents can also benefit from having a volunteer or staff member to talk to and share concerns or issues they may be facing.

Expressing their gratitude, the family said: “We are so thankful for the FACES support. They have been generous and always there to listen and help whenever they can. We have been to groups where our children can play and learn and they have helped to get our eldest into a nursery.”

Elected Mayor of Bedford Borough, Tom Wootton, said, “FACES are delivering much-needed help and support to children and families in Bedford Borough that need it the most, it’s fantastic that Bedford Borough Council and the BLMK Integrated Care Board have been able to contribute this funding that has provided such a positive impact.”

Michaela Martindale, Chief Executive Officer, FACES, said: “We have been able to support this family in more depth due to the funding that we have received from the cost of living grant fund. The funding that we have for specific projects does not cover any additional signposting or extra support, so the family have benefited from receiving a whole family approach.”

You can find out more about the FACES charity on their website.

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