Housing association pledges cost of living support to customers this winter

Date published: 14 January 2024

'We're here to give you a hand if you need it this winter' - that's the message to customers of Oldham’s biggest social housing provider, First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO).

Now in its second year, the housing association’s 'Need a hand?’ campaign is back to encourage customers who are struggling with the cost-of-living to reach out for free, confidential help from FCHO's specialist teams.

FCHO say that last winter hundreds of its customers in greatest need benefitted from advice and support to help manage rising costs.

More than 850 people who couldn’t make ends meet contacted their landlord for practical advice to maximise their income.

FCHO helped customers to collectively save more than £112,000 by accessing good quality food for a fraction of its usual price through its partnership with the Bread and Butter Thing affordable food service.

In doing so, the housing provider helped increase the amount of disposable income in customers’ pockets, so they didn’t have to choose between buying food, paying bills, or buying other basics.

Seventy-five people were helped into work, putting on average an extra £571 in their pockets every month and FCHO’s team supported customers in need to pay their rent and charges with tailored assistance.

To help residents make their money go even further, the social landlord also provided energy saving advice to help keep bills down and signposted people to local partners including Oldham Council to make sure they got all the help they need.

Kelly Webb, Executive Director of Customer Experience at FCHO, said: "Last winter our teams saw unprecedented numbers of customers contact us for advice and support, and we are seeing a similar demand for these services this winter.

“We helped people from a range of backgrounds, from older people and families with children, to couples and single households.

"In many cases we were able to provide early help and stop them from reaching crisis point.

“We know that the cost-of-living crisis is continuing to put huge pressures on household finances, leaving some finding it very difficult to cope.

“We want customers to know we are here to give them a hand if they are struggling to manage and we encourage those who need advice or practical support to get in touch, so we can help.”

To access a range of free, confidential support, FCHO customers can email: communityservices@fcho.co.uk or call 0161 393 7117.

Visit: www.fcho.co.uk/need-a-hand for more information.

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