Insight

How the impact of the cost of living crisis is being felt most by those who have the least

The cost of living crisis is affecting people from all walks of life.
The cost of living crisis is affecting people from all walks of life. Credit: ITV News Anglia/PA

When I first decided to look into the impact the cost of living crisis is having on everyday people, I knew it had the potential to move me in ways that I've rarely experienced before.

The things I saw, and stories I heard, will live with me forever, but in terms of a quote to sum up the scale of the problem, there was one that stood out in particular.

"We're all in the same storm, but people are in very different boats."

It came from the chief executive of the St Martins Housing Trust, Dr Jan Sheldon.

The charity has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, but never has it faced challenges quite like the ones that could come this winter.

Not only are its staff already noticing an increase in the number of rough sleepers on Norwich's streets, but the charity itself is under threat because of rising bills and donations drying up.

  • ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward reflects on his experiences of covering the cost of living crisis

This is a crisis that affects us all. We're all paying more for our food, our gas and electric is costing more, many of us are having to cut back on things from holidays to haircuts.

But, there are other groups of society for whom this crisis is having a far greater impact.

For them, it's about survival now.

I saw first-hand the rough sleepers huddled in shop doorways, or in the grounds of Norwich's Roman Catholic cathedral. Anywhere they could find shelter, they did.

Mercifully, it has been unseasonably mild recently, but winter is coming, and temperatures will drop significantly.

Having seen the conditions that some people are being forced to sleep in - the cold park benches, the hard concrete floors - it's hard to imagine what they are going through night after night.

The thought that more people could join them over the coming months really is a frightening one.

Then there are the people who are just about managing to keep their heads above water.

When I interviewed pensioner David Reid outside the social supermarket that he now gets his food from, I could not believe his positivity.

There are fears that the number of rough sleepers could rise this winter. Credit: PA

After his electricity bills tripled last month, he was left with just £10 in his bank account. If that wasn't enough, he continues to undergo cancer treatment at the local hospital.

When I asked him whether he feared there would be a day that he couldn't afford to pay his rent anymore, his answer really touched me: "Somehow or another, something turns up. If you keep optimistic and believing in others, if you're making an attempt, somebody will actually come and walk beside you."

People like David are going to need to keep that belief to help them face what is going to be a hugely difficult time - as well as the vital assistance of initiatives like the social supermarket.

On Friday, experts warned that we could be about to head into the longest recession since records began.

This is something that will get worse, before it gets better.

As Dr Sheldon so eloquently put it to me: "The people this will impact the most are those that have the least."

If there's a message that we should all bear in the mind over the coming weeks and months, it's that.


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