Twenty-eight support services are coming together to help ease cost-of-living worries at a Castle Quarter event in Norwich next week. Gary Albone – a member of the Your Own Place Advisory Board which came up with the idea – shares his personal story and explains why he thinks this event is important
‘During and after Covid, I found it very difficult to maintain a job. I was struggling mentally, and due to my anxiety, I couldn’t cope with going out to work. I lost money. I was at risk of losing my home. Living in my flat, there had been a fire next door. When a policeman knocked to tell me about it, it instantly caused me a lot of worry and anxiety. And every time there was a fire drill at work, it triggered a panic attack. I couldn’t cope and had to leave.
I felt like I was stuck in a never-ending cycle of finding a job, then feeling very bad with anxiety attacks, and having to stop going out to work. I didn’t know how to break out of it and was feeling hopeless. Your Own Place changed all of that for me.
During a very low period, where I didn’t take care of myself, they got me back on track. The workshop I attended gave me the kick I needed to keep my flat, at the time I needed it most. I found my confidence again and have since been able to find a secure job, that I really love.
I’ve been really open about my struggles, and my new employer understands my mental health, they are flexible, and support me. I’m so much happier at work.’
Your Own Place supported Gary to increase his confidence and knowledge in six areas, including housing options, understanding of debt, managing money, and looking forward to the future. And since going through his programme, Gary’s joined their Advisory Board.
‘They said I would bring a lot to the organisation and could help others, because I’d been through a tough time but have found a way through it.
They are my safe space, I have been able to open up and share a lot, it’s benefitted me so much and I have made so many good friends.
The 11 of us on the board knew we wanted to stage something where we could reach a big number of people. The cost-of-living crisis is impacting so many people, in lots of different ways. We are all going through it. Of course, everyone’s circumstances are different, but since getting help from Your Own Place, the one thing that I have really learnt is that if you open up and talk, people are willing to help you.
With the winter months coming up, and people worrying about rising bills and how to cope, please come and visit the event in October and speak up before it all gets too much. There are people there if you need them.
Some people think there’s nowhere to turn. And I was that person for a while. Talk, ask for help. Don’t struggle. Don’t just say ‘I’m fine’ if you’re really not. There’s always something that can be done.’
As winter approaches, a new large-scale cost of living event is taking place in Norwich city centre on Thursday, 19 October, to help people get on-the-spot information and support about bills, benefits, housing issues, money, and mental health.
There will be 28 different support services at the event, taking place in Castle Quarter, brought together by Your Own Place, a local social enterprise that supports people who are at risk of homelessness.
The event comes at a time when latest figures show 15% of people in East Anglia are facing food insecurity and three in 10 children in Norwich are living in poverty.
After seeing a rise in demand for its services, Your Own Place and its Advisory Board, a group of people who have previously accessed its support, recognised a need for a mass public event of this kind. It will be free to attend, and anyone struggling to make ends meet, or feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis in other ways, can get access to information and support on the day.
The benefit, housing improvement and council tax team from Norwich City Council will be attending, alongside Anglian Water’s support team, Norwich Foodbanks, Norfolk and Waveney Mind, Home-Start Norfolk, Your Own Place and many more.
There will be the opportunity to talk about housing issues, bills, money management, mental health support and practical ways to help manage rising costs.
Emily Newman a facilitator for Your Own Place says: ‘Our Advisory Board members are people who have been through challenging times and wanted to stage a big public event to helps others. The cost-of-living crisis is impacting so many, but we want people to know they are not alone. Yes, there are endless digital and online tools, but sometimes you want to talk to a person, face to face. If anyone is reading this and thinking I don’t know how I’m going to cope over the coming months to pay my rent, bills or put food on the table, please attend. The organisations have signed up to our event because there are ways they can help. People don’t have to struggle alone.’
Gemma Hyde from Castle Quarter adds: ‘Your Own Place wants to see everyone have a safe, secure home, and we fully support their work. When they came to us looking for space to host the event, of course we wanted to back them. Being in the city centre, and close to the bus station, we’re easily accessible for lots of people. Undeniably, the cost-of-living crisis is affecting all of us or someone we care about. It’s important to support each other through these times and ask for help if you’re struggling. Don’t go it alone.’
The Cost of Living Support Event takes place at Castle Quarter, Norwich (the White Lion area just outside Boots and TK Maxx), on Thursday 19 October 2023, 10am – 4.30pm. For more information, visit Your Own Place. Also, visit Castle Quarter Norwich.
Featured image of Gary Albone – member of the Your Own Place Advisory Board