Third Sector Leeds Cost of Living Position Statement
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the third sector played a critical role in mobilising our city’s resources and working collaboratively across boundaries to support communities. The pandemic highlighted the unique insight the sector has into the strengths and needs of different communities, and how we bring the agility and flexibility that is needed to a system response.
At Third Sector Leeds (TSL) we believe that the third sector has a crucial role to play in reaching and supporting people and communities that may ‘slip through the cracks’ between statutory services. These include newly migrated communities and people seeking asylum, people with long term health conditions, and people living in our most deprived neighbourhoods or experiencing multiple forms of deprivation. These communities are already experiencing the most acute health and social inequalities and are most likely to feel the impact of the Cost of Living crisis the most.
Wherever possible, the third sector continues to mobilise its response to the emerging crisis. Many organisations (including the Leeds Community Anchor Network and Food Aid Network) have been working with the Local Authority to deliver the Household Support Grant to people who need it, and the sector is working with partners to make sure that people who can’t afford to heat their homes have somewhere warm to go to this autumn/winter. Third sector organisations also continue to deliver their usual operations including support around food poverty; support and advice around money, debt and benefits; housing support; digital inclusion and access; emotional wellbeing and mental health support; clothes, furniture and equipment. As well as delivering critical services, representatives from TSL and other key strategic networks are committed to continuing to collect intelligence on the impact of the current challenges on communities and to working with our statutory partners to shape a response.
We believe that we can only mitigate the worst impacts of the crisis on communities by working together to take radical, locally led, collective action – as we have shown that we can do during the COVID-19 pandemic. TSL is acutely aware of the financial challenges that statutory partners face, and will continue to face as the Cost of Living crisis deepens. However, the third sector is also impacted by the same challenges. Rising costs, rising demand, instability and workforce exhaustion may limit its ability to play a full partnership role in meeting the coming challenges without building further on the culture of trust-based investment that emerged through Covid-19.