The increased pressures on families with the rising cost of living has meant many families and individuals having to make difficult decisions about eating and keeping warm. Leaving families having to prioritise essentials such as food and heating bills over replacing beds and white goods. In 2023 Barnardo’s uncovered that over one million families are having to give up their own bed so their child has somewhere to sleep.

Similarly many are facing exceptional hardship through unexpected events such as escaping domestic violence, breakdown of relationships or deterioration in disabilities.

People finding themselves in difficulty are able to access help through the Essential Living Fund which is administered by Southend-on-Sea City Council and through the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance Bed Poverty Fund.

The Essential Living Fund helps people establish themselves in the community following a stay in an institution, care home, authority care, prison or similar, or to help them remain in the community rather than a care home or institution when they need to receive care.

The fund can also help household under exceptional pressures such as the break down in a relationship, sudden domestic upheaval or increased care needs.

The Bed Poverty Fund supports people or families with no suitable furniture to allow them to sleep. This includes bedding and associated costs linked to maintaining medical beds in circumstances where households are unable to do so. Community360 has been commissioned to administer the Bed Poverty Fund for Colchester.

On a practical level Community360 delivers beds, beddings and white goods provided by the Essential Living and Bed Poverty Funds. Through regular deliveries C360 Community Transport has this year made a staggering 577 deliveries to residents covering Tending, Uttlesford, Colchester, Braintree and Maldon districts. This includes 402 beds and 605 white goods from the Essential Living Fund and 63 beds and sets of bedding via the Bed Poverty Fund.

Keith Rayner joined our Community Transport team following a career driving artic lorries and as an electrician.  As a qualified electrician he is able to installs the white goods so they are available for immediate use. He can see first hand the difference that the scheme is making to people who don’t have the basic necessities of life and some with children sleeping on floors.

The numbers don’t portray the whole picture, behind them are the stories of the people and the impact on the community.

Following the conflict in Ukraine and the displacement of families to the UK, Colchester City Council provided housing for several Ukrainian families, who were previously living in conditions without essential bedding support. Through the Ukrainian group that uses The One Colchester Community Hub to offer support to the displaced Ukrainian people in Colchester we were able to connect them with help through the Bed Poverty Fund. The fund extends beyond providing beds; it is a commitment to promoting sleep health and ensuring everyone has access to essential products for a good night’s sleep and the grant can cover additional bedding items.

Thanks to the transformative impact of the Bed Poverty Fund, we have been able to assist 17 Ukrainian families, providing them with beds, bedding, mattresses, and pillows. The grant has made a significant impact in the living condition of the Ukrainian community, we have received the following feedback: ‘when I arrived in Colchester, I was 5 months pregnant, now I have a little girl who needs her own bed, and I am really grateful for all the help that we have received, without the connections we have made with Community360 we wouldn’t have been able to reach for the right support’.

The fund has made a significant difference in the lives of those in need, offering hope and optimism for a better future.