It was brilliant to see more than 20 frontline workers representing over a dozen local Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) organisations come together at our Cost of Living Crisis – Barnet Community Sector event last week.
We’ll shortly be sending out the minutes of the meeting, alongside a snap survey and a whole list of resources crowdsourced from attendees and Inclusion Barnet colleagues. Then – hopefully later this week – we’ll get an invitation out to the next event for frontline VCFSE workers.
We are also in the process of confirming a date for our next Inclusion Barnet Members and Friends Meeting, which is likely to be in late September. We know from our April event that support to help disabled people survive the Cost of Living Crisis is one of our members’ top priorities right now, and we plan to provide a speaker who can outline some of the resources available. This meeting will also give us an opportunity to hear directly from disabled people in Barnet about their experiences, concerns and what they need to feel more secure.
If you represent an organisation working to support local people, why not hold your own event to find out what your service users think? If you do, we’d love to know what they say!
Keep your eyes peeled for dates to be announced in the coming days, but in the meantime you can read on for a taste of what we heard at last week’s event…
What did we find out?
Unsurprisingly, VCFSE organisations across the board are struggling to support people at this very challenging time. Issues they highlighted included:
- Housing – unaffordable rent and gentrification leading to situations where people must essentially hope to be the ‘highest bidder’ just to have the chance to rent a property
- Unscrupulous people taking advantage of others’ desperation; charging them for help filling in benefits forms or to act as ‘brokers’ promising to help them find a place to live
- People being expected to know what help is available and how they can access it; some of those eligible for this support are likely missing out due to factors like digital exclusion
- Disabled victims of domestic abuse being further endangered due to the benefits system expecting them to be reliant on their partners’ financial support
We wanted to see whether there was an appetite for frontline colleagues across Barnet’s many passionate VCFSE organisations to network and strategise in this way – an opportunity often available only to CEOs and service managers. It is clear now that there is, and we are excited to see what can be achieved with the power of this collective insight.
We believe that the way Barnet will get through this is by working together.