The Cost of Living

Fresh fruit and vegetables at the Russell Street Community Centre

The cost of living crisis will be different to Covid-19, but charities are ready.

Looking back at our Charities in 2021 blog from last December, it reminded us of just how different things were a year ago. Norfolk’s vibrant and varied VCSEs had rapidly risen to the challenges posed by Covid-19, and to great success. Small organisations proved themselves on a national stage: the sector’s creativity, adaptability and ability to meet demand shone through. We also identified some of the challenges we thought charities may face in 2022, such as the effect short-term Covid funding had on their long-term development, and their trouble with recruitment. The blog also alluded to the rising cost of fuel and the withdrawal of more formalised government support, like the furlough scheme.

In the 8 months that have unfolded since then, things have changed dramatically. The cost of living has spiralled, and the true impact of this will not become clear for many months. What is clear, however, is that charities which have not long recovered from the pandemic will soon be faced with another crisis – perhaps one of an even greater scale.

Consumers have seen sharp price increases recently. The war in Ukraine has thrown the European fuel and energy market into disarray, while Brexit and the residual impacts of covid are causing household food staples to rocket – all culminating in the worst cost of living crisis in a generation. Inflation is at its worst level since the 1980s, meaning millions of people are seeing a drop in real wages. With the need so great, it is almost certain that local VCSEs will have to step in to supplement the national support which has been offered.

A woman addresses groups of people sat around tables at a community centre
First Focus Fakenham users recieve budgeting advice from Norfolk Citizen’s Advice

VCSEs will be likely face their own money troubles, too. At the outset of and during the pandemic, grants were much more widely available than they are now. While we are still able to offer assistance to organisations through the Household Support Fund, as we did to great effect last year, there is currently less national funding available. As many people are reviewing their finances, there may also be a drop in donations to charities over the coming months. This will come at a time when charities will expect to see a greater demand for their services as the crisis deepens. Norfolk’s charities will be stretched but we are confident that they will continue to cope well, as they have done for the past two years.

A man stands with two young girls and a boy. He is cutting ingredients on a chopping board
A family attends a cooking class provided by Top Banana, Gt. Yarmouth

What NCF staff are saying:

If inflation does pass 10%, a £10,000 grant will only be worth around £9,000 by the time it is spent. Meanwhile, new people will be accessing services like food banks, welfare advice and mental health support for the first time as households start to feel the pressure. Charities will be doing more with less, so the creativity, flexibility and adaptability we see so much of in our Norfolk VCSEs will be key going forward.

Laura Wigby, Head of Programmes

Charitable giving tends to follow trends in household income – so organisations may see a fall in donations. This is at a time when charities will need to increase their reserves. Diversification is key going forwards: seeking grants, making the most of GiftAid and exploring other means of raising funds will be vital.

Joanne Dale, Head of Finance

Capacity will be stretched in ways that are hard to predict. We are committed to being a flexible funder. We want charities to build their offer and be resilient. At the Foundation, we can help them do that not just through funding but through professional advice, support and networks, too.

Claire Cullens, CEO

Unlike Covid, we have seen this crisis building over the past few months. Understanding its severity, we have been working with local VCSEs to build resilience and use this time wisely to prepare for the difficult months ahead.

What Norfolk Community Foundation is doing this winter:
Julie and Mayoress Jenny Thompson stand in front of shelves in the Shrublands Food Club

No one in Norfolk goes hungry

During the pandemic, we noticed the increased demand for food-related projects, inspiring us to help launch Norfolk’s first social supermarket in 2020. Since then, the Nourishing Norfolk Network has continued to build its capacity. The 8 food hubs already in action will be joined by a further 7, helping people all over Norfolk access affordable, nutritious food.

Surviving Winter

This year, Surviving Winter will have a special focus on keeping warm. More details of the campaign will come soon.

Claire and Laura sit looking at a laptop

Webinars and 1-to-1s

Webinars for charities looking to build organisational and financial resilience are being held this September. Whether you want to integrate legacy giving into your fundraising strategy, learn what makes a charity sustainable, or get 1-to-1 support, there’s something that can help your organisation prepare for times ahead.

A man with a beard wearing a hat holds his daughter in his arms in a community supermarket.

Household Support Fund

Open for applications until 29th August, the fund can help charities, voluntary organisations and Community Interest Companies assist people with their heating bills this winter. This opportunity is not suitable for individuals, who should instead approach the Norfolk Assistance Scheme.

Published: 09.08.2022