London's Poverty Profile 2015 highlights some shocking issues for London with 27% of Londoners in poverty despite higher levels of employment. Key to this difficulty in making ends meet is the increase in the number of low-paid jobs, for the fifth consecutive year, combined with the cost of market housing being double the average for England. The majority of people living in poverty are in a working family and renting privately.
The report by New Policy Institute, funded by Trust for London, explains that in 2015 10,500 families were affected by the overall benefit cap including 2,400 losing more than £100 per week, and that if the cap is lowered as planned, they will lose another £58 a week and that a further 20,000 families will be affected.
As a grassroots charity delivering services on the ground we see the impact of these concerning trends in the lived experiences of our most vulnerable service users.
"I really am so worried for the most marginalised communities we serve, who are already experiencing poverty and stigma. Austerity is causing further hardship and all too often a strain on their mental health, resulting in increased isolation and inequality. What we are seeing on the ground, and particularly in south east London, completely chimes with the findings of this key research by Trust for London.", Dr Greg Ussher, METRO CEO.
Drawing on our insight from the 60,000 plus occasions of service we deliver each year, trends align with the alarming findings of the Poverty Profile. We have seen referrals from our HIV Support Services to food banks double in the last 12 months; applications to our Hardship Fund have risen sharply; and there is an ever increasing demand for crisis 1-2-1s in our mental health service, frequently connected with benefits being sanctioned.
"This report and our own insight show a real need for a reality check - Londoners are already being hit with a double whammy: welfare reforms and rising rents. The result for many vulnerable groups is debt, anxiety and depression." Dan McDonald, METRO Chair of Trustees.
Sarah - Counselling
The help and understanding I experienced from everyone I came into contact with whilst using the Metroís services was amazing.
David - Counselling
Outstanding people. Outstanding service. Outstanding counselling. Truly something that has allowed me to turn my life around.
Kwasi - Mentoring
During the 6 month programme, I developed a close relationship with my mentor. Knowing that I would have to talk to him honestly about what I did in the previous 2 weeks somehow forced me to be safe every time I had an encounter.
Ebere - First Point
I wish this service was around when I was newly diagnosed. I felt my world had fallen apart around me and I didn't know which way to turn for support. You are offering a very valuable service.
Joe - Mentoring
The programme had such an impact on my life that I decided to come on board as a volunteer mentor!
Michael - Counselling
I gained a huge amount of help from the counselling service and would like to thank the service for offering so much support.
Simon - Mentoring
By discussing things at such an intimate level with my mentor, I really came face to face with some of the reasons why I was taking chances before.
Peter- First Point
I felt so relieved to have a named First Point worker who I can call if I need to be referred to a particular service.
Joan - First Point
Thank you so much for taking time to listen to me and truly understand how I am feeling. This is the only appointment I've had regarding HIV that didnít feel rushed.
Abimbola- First Point
It has been a long time since I felt that someone actually listened to me.