PEOPLE who use a food bank in Fosse ward in Leicester are staying a little warmer this winter, thanks to a project that’s been supported by a city council anti-poverty community grant.
With so many people struggling to keep their homes warm due to soaring energy costs, Woodgate Community Food – a volunteer-run food bank that supports more than 130 families every week – has been giving electric blankets to those in most need to help them beat the freeze.
Lynn Wyeth, secretary of Woodgate Community Food, said: “Eating well and keeping warm are priorities for everyone in winter, but for people on a tight budget, that’s become very difficult.
“An electric blanket, which can cost as little as 3p an hour to run, can make a huge difference to people who may have no other source of heating at home.
“We’d like to thank all the organisations who have made it possible for us to donate these blankets to people in Fosse ward. We know, from the feedback we’ve received, how grateful our customers are.”
So far, the food bank’s Winter Warmer project has gifted 173 electric blankets to high-priority customers, thanks to support from organisations including the Red Leicester Choir, Local Giving and Groundwork, as well as local ward councillors.
An application for funding from the city council’s anti-poverty community grant scheme was also successful, with a £1,560 grant helping the Winter Warmer project to buy 30 single and 30 double electric blankets for some of the most vulnerable people in the ward.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Sarah Russell, who leads on the council’s anti-poverty agenda, said: “Woodgate Foodbank’s Winter Warmer project is a great example of the sort of initiative we wanted to hear about when we launched our anti-poverty community grants scheme.
“When so many people are now having to choose between eating and heating, this food bank is targeting both.
“The volunteers who run this project know the people in their community and recognise the difficulties that many of them are facing, so they’re perfectly placed to deliver practical help that will make a big difference to so many lives.
“Leicester is fortunate to have a very active community and voluntary sector that does incredible work to support people – and through our anti-poverty community grants scheme, we hope to help an even wider network of organisations to provide support to even more individuals and families.”
The city council’s anti-poverty community grants scheme was launched in November 2022 to support organisations that are working to address poverty in Leicester.
In the first round of bids, schools, charities, voluntary groups and businesses could apply for grants of up to £10,000 that would help them deliver practical help to people struggling with the cost of living crisis.
A total of 88 applications were submitted by the closing date in December. So far, more than £30,000 has been allocated to projects helping people across Leicester, with a further 20 projects expected to receive around £115,000 in this round of bidding. Projects that have already received their grants include a community takeaway food scheme, a cooking-on-a-budget course, a scheme to support vulnerable families with baby equipment, and a community café offering a warm space that can now extend its opening hours.
A second round of applications will be launched later this year, when grants of over £10k will be available for more transformative and large-scale projects.
In total, the city council’s anti-poverty scheme will make £250,000 available for community grants each year for the next three years (2022-25).
The city council’s anti-poverty community grants scheme is part of a range of measures the council is taking to help people through the cost of living crisis.
These include the provision of ‘warm spaces’ at all 16 city libraries, where people can keep warm and enjoy a hot drink, without having to put their heating on at home, and administering the Government’s £3.4million household support fund to ensure help is given to the city’s most vulnerable households.
Anyone who is facing crisis because of rising fuel and living costs can email the council at firstname.lastname@example.org, setting out their needs and contact details.
Help and advice on the cost of living is available at leicester.gov.uk/costofliving
More information about the city council’s anti-poverty strategy is available at leicester.gov.uk/anti-poverty
Picture caption: Eve Hill, local volunteer and chair of Woodgate Community Food, with one of the electric blankets that will help someone stay warm this winter