Northern Ireland families taking drastic measures to save money as cost-of-living crisis deepens

By Jordan Moates

Getting into debt to pay household bills and letting the dishes pile up to save hot water.

That's just some of the drastic measures Northern Ireland families are having to take as the cost-of-living crisis takes hold. With soaring prices and many households struggling UTV has spent the day at a west Belfast project trying to help those in need.

However, the organisation itself - Footprints - is facing a battle with soaring running costs.

Michelle Boyle, 25, who has two young children uses the facility.

She said: "My bills have gone up about £50 a week, by the end of the week I don't have as much money as I should.

"I am having to borrow off family members and they are getting sick of it. "It very difficult and I feel really ashamed having to ask. "It's taking too much of my money just to heat the house." She shops at a 'social supermarket' in west Belfast where food is donated by large supermarkets. The goods are up to 70% cheaper, that takes the pressure off those most in need and leaves them with more money in their pocket. Eileen Wilson, sustainable food manager at Footprints, added: "In the last year we processed 15 tonne of food, that is over 55,000 meals." "On a weekly basis we help 100 families, and over the course of the year that adds up to 300 adults and 500 children." From the young to old, every generation is feeling the cost of living crisis Elizabeth Livingstone (70) says she is faced with choosing to put the heating on or letting the dishes pile up to avoid using the hot water. "What do you do when you know the outgoings are far more than what is going in," she said. While Footprints provides support, it has struggled with rising costs. Add in a rise in national insurance contributions and its budget is being squeezed Isobel Loughran, Footprints chief executive added: "Our gas bill for January is usually £400, this year it was £1,200.

"We don't have the choice to turn off the heating. "The crisis is not only in the community but in the organisations servicing the community as well."