Summit hosted by Wirral Council to address cost of living crisis

Key local organisations were brought together by Wirral Council to see increased cooperation in helping people in the borough face an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

The Wirral Partnership Summit at Birkenhead Town Hall saw representatives from sectors including housing, health, and the community, voluntary and faith sectors attend a ground-breaking conference held to strengthen their relationships and ensure they were all working together for Wirral residents, businesses and communities.

The aim of the Summit was to bring key partners together to learn about existing services and see what more can be done by joining-up – specifically to tackle cost-of-living challenges being faced by residents and businesses in Wirral.

Cllr Janette Williamson, Leader of Wirral Council, welcomed the partners to the town hall in Hamilton Square. She said, “Our Partnership Summit is an opportunity for us all to share our experiences, learn more from each other, and build on the fantastic partnership working going on across the borough.”

Among those attending the event were housing provider Magenta, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, health and care Wirral Place, Citizen Advice Wirral, Wirral Foodbank and Energy Project Plus.

The Summit heard that struggling residents increasingly need more and more help with emergency food, fuel, and debt support and how there is a new cohort of people accessing these types of services for the first time, while those that have accessed the services previously now have more complex problems.

Other issues raised included the sustainability of businesses and even the Charity, Voluntary and Faith (CVF) organisations which help people but find themselves increasingly at risk due to their own rising fuel costs and impacts on staff and volunteers who support these services. It heard that charitable donations are down up to 50% compared to 2021, placing even greater pressure on the sector at a time of rising demand for their help.

There was also discussion about how the wider health and care system is under additional pressure and hospital admissions may increase, for example, if people cannot afford to run medical equipment from home.

Also highlighted were concerns about health and safety in homes, as more people may be using electric blankets and lighting candles and fires to keep warm

As well as addressing the cost-of-living issues the Summit also looked at how the organisations could work together on other crucial areas such as reducing health and wealth inequalities across Wirral, addressing the Climate Emergency, and securing inward investment to provide local opportunities for training, apprenticeships and jobs for young people and school leavers.

Following the Summit, Cllr Williamson said, “This was an important opportunity for us to listen to our partners and hear about the vital work being done in Wirral to help the people of the borough. It also allowed us to better understand how we can support each other to continue delivering the help and assistance so many across the borough, unfortunately, increasingly need.”

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