Housing provider offers help with second year of campaign

A SOCIAL housing provider that manages more than 500 properties in the Oldham area has told its customers, ‘We’re here to give you a hand if you need it this winter.’

First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) is running its Need a hand? campaign for a second year to encourage people struggling with the cost of living to reach out for free, confidential help.

Last winter, hundreds in greatest need benefitted from advice and support to help manage rising costs.

More than 850 people who could not make ends meet contacted their landlord for practical advice to maximise their income.

FCHO – which manages 566 properties, three pre cent of the total number of homes, in the area – 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, it helped increase the amount of disposable income in customers’ pockets, so they did not have to choose between buying food, paying bills, or buying other basics.

In addition, 75 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.

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