Bridgnorth councillor urges those struggling financially due to pandemic to seek help

A councillor in Bridgnorth is reaching out to those who may be struggling financially throughout the town due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bridgnorth Councillor Julia Buckley
Bridgnorth Councillor Julia Buckley

Out of a population of 12,000 people, nearly 1,900 adults in Bridgnorth are unemployed, with a further 1,100 receiving in-work benefits, according to September's Universal Credit claimant count.

This means about 25 per cent of people in the town are surviving on a total household income of less than £16,000 a year.

Councillor Julia Buckley, who represents East ward, said her workload relating to homelessness and food and fuel poverty is increasing, as well as enquiries at Bridgnorth Food Bank.

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Councillor Buckley said: "We all see the news headlines about the economic decline due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is easy to imagine some remote problem in big cities miles away from us.

"The reality couldn’t be more different. The statistics indicate that Bridgnorth, despite our successful market and High Street businesses, is one of the worst affected places in Shropshire due to the mix of employment sectors.

"Our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues all around us are struggling financially with young children, as well as older, more vulnerable residents suffering in silence.

Furlough

"This is mirrored at the food bank, where we have seen a steady rise in clients, and we fear a further surge when furlough payments are reduced. In my councillor case load I am increasingly responding to emergency requests, homelessness enquiries and food and fuel poverty issues."

Donation trolleys for Bridgnorth Food Bank can be found in Sainsbury's and the Co-op.

Councillor Buckley added: "For those of us fortunate enough not to be amongst the one in four affected by the Covid crisis, please reach out to your networks and let friends know you are there.

"If you are able to make a contribution to the food bank you will find a donation trolley in Sainsbury's and the Co-op with a list of needs – usually tinned food and basic toiletries. At the moment our donations are particularly low because many regular donors are struggling themselves.

"With uncertainty around future lockdown rules and furlough support causing more financial hardship for small businesses and employees, the one thing we do know for certain is that our community in Bridgnorth usually pulls together in times of need.

"You could simply shop locally this Christmas – you can order deliveries from most of our local traders instead of Amazon – so you can still enjoy some seasonal cheer whilst doing your bit."

People can seek emergency help from Shropshire Council’s welfare support team on 03456789078; housing and homelessness team on 03456789005; and free school meal support on 03456789000.

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