Many Bristol residents on low incomes are worrying about how they will get through the cost of living crisis. As a result, they are starting to think about finding new work, better paid work or even extra work.
The cost of living crisis, and the pandemic, brought truth to the phrase ‘in it together’. Clean Slate has been helping Bristolians on low incomes become more financially stable since 2006. We help people find ways to stretch a limited budget, find new work or better work and get online.
Quids in!, our money skills programme, includes an easy-read magazine, guides, emails and web tools. Our service users and readers are disproportionately affected by the national cost of living crisis, more so than affluent residents in the city.
In 2018, our reader survey found 48 per cent of working age people who are not in full-time employment were skipping meals on account of troubles with money. 51 per cent were turning off their heating despite being cold. 68 per cent felt frightened, anxious or depressed. This was before the pandemic, before the war in Ukraine and before the cost of living crisis. Working class people are suffering even more now than before.
In October, we launched our #ThinkBiggerThanBills campaign. We called on people struggling with bills to look at more than just cutting back. At least £15 billion of benefits are unclaimed, so we should all start by checking if there’s anything more we’re entitled to, you can do this by using our benefits calculator. People who are not online could be hundreds of pounds better off by ‘going digital’ because they’re able to shop around, find advice and access support. Finally, using our money health-check could also unlock massive savings as it uncovers the tips no-one else is telling us.
During the pandemic, Clean Slate helped over 2,000 people save roughly an average £1,000 by taking a simple money health-check. Now we’re able to offer it face-to-face from locations across the city as well as by phone. Anyone on a low income who is worried about bills can get in touch (Contact us here). Unemployed people will be put to the front of our queue.
People often just want to regain control of their finances. Throughout lockdown, people on our six-week support programme found they could start turning things around. The future seemed brighter, and they asked if we could help them find work.
There are now more available jobs than unemployed people. With the current cost of living crisis, for those who are able to work, it might now be the right time. Not everyone is ready for formal support or training, which is why Bristol’s One Front Door is so important. Every kind of jobhunting support is listed in one place. It takes a ‘horses for courses’ approach… even for horses who don’t like courses!
Clean Slate is one programme on offer and jobseekers can find out about our 7 Signs events. Here people explore their skills that could be on offer to employers, building their confidence. Attendees devise ways to present their skills in CVs that are unique and motivating. They practice personal statements, giving them a helping hand in interviews.
Our Elements scheme is for people who have experienced hardship. We are recruiting people whose life experience is more valuable to us than formal training. They are central Clean Slate’s cause.
We are recruiting people whose life experience is more valuable to us than formal training. Have you been on benefits? Are you struggling with money? Have you been unemployed for a while? We will provide training and a 12-week paid work placement as a Peer Worker. By the end, you’ll be able to be able to apply for a support worker role with us or another employer. We also have paid placements for people wanting to help older people and those who need support. Together, we can step up.
Clean Slate is at the frontline of the current cost of living crisis and Bristol needs you! We are part of a wider, joint effort across all kinds of support, advice, health, housing and financial services.
Bristol’s ‘One City’ approach to the cost of living crisis showcases that we really are all in it together.
For further cost of living support visit the Bristol City Council website or call the We Are Bristol helpline on 0800 694 0184, Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm.