Our partner Healthwatch Calderdale influencing anti-poverty plans in Calderdale

Over 60 voices of people with disabilities affected by the increased cost of living have been heard!

As the number of people struggling to pay their bills and afford their basic needs increases, we wanted to know if people thought this was affecting their health.

What we discovered was concerning. Our insights during September 2022 showed that people with disabilities in our region are disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis.

The cost of living crisis is affecting all of us but people with disabilities are in particularly vulnerable situations.

The reasons for this are many and complex, but there is a clear link between disability and poverty: people with disabilities have twice the risk of living in poverty.

The reasons for this are many and complex, but there is a clear link between disability and poverty: people with disabilities have twice the risk of living in poverty compared to the general population and “twice the risk of developing conditions such as depression, asthma, diabetes, stroke, obesity or poor oral health.” (World Health Organisation WHO, December 2022)

This can be attributed to several factors including discrimination, lack of access to services and employment opportunities as well as higher costs associated with their needs (such as specialist equipment).

In over 60 statements gathered from residents via outreach and on social media, clear themes emerged that are affecting disabled people and their families/carers:

■ stress and anxiety

■ financial barriers/debt

■ poorer physical health due to the increased cost of food, heating and travel to appointments

■ increased isolation and impact on mental health/personal development as social activities begin to feel like an unaffordable luxury

We want to ensure that the voices of disabled people – who are disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis – are heard by policymakers and decision-makers.

What we did:

In February 2023 our engagement officer Alexandra presented the themes, findings, case studies and your comments to counsellors and managers at the Calderdale Anti Poverty Steering group who will consider what we’ve found when shaping anti-poverty plans in Calderdale.

Commitments for action:

“The presentation was really powerful in terms of hearing from those with lived experience of the challenges and the research will be invaluable in informing our support plans over the next 12 months.
It was very thought-provoking and has got the group thinking about how they can better support people with disabilities manage their financial support – we’ll set this as an action for the steering group. Co-production solutions to the issues raised by those we have engaged with will be added to the anti-poverty action plan.”
— Sarah Richardson (Assistant director customer service from Calderdale Council – lead for reducing inequalities)

Furthermore, suggestions were made to present the findings to local MPs for them to lobby with parliament as the change needs to make a fundamental impact on a national level as well as locally.

Counsellor June Turner (Todmorden) who manages the Todmorden food drop-in service said it made her think about the families of SEN children they support through the drop-in service and she is going to share this with the rest of the management committee to see if there is additional support they can provide for those families known to them.

Kate Horne from Public Health was keen to see how the anti-steering group could pick up the solutions suggested by local people in our scoping work. She also suggested reviewing the current solutions to some of the issues raised and how accessible they are.

Sian Rogers – policy and projects manager, and lead for the voluntary sector for Calderdale gave some great insight into how actions could start to progress by re-establishing some of the adult social care co-production groups that supported people throughout COVID.

Building on our existing relationships with disabled people’s organisations, we will continue to communicate what we hear with the anti-poverty steering group. This will enable them to better understand what the reality is like for disabled people so they can focus on actions and changes that are based on real needs.

In time we will start to see how these findings have been implemented and we will share updates via our website, newsletter and social media.

Share your experiences

We want to hear from you. Please tell us your stories. Have you seen services start to change things? Is there something you’d like them to do differently?

To talk to us
Telephone: 01924 450 379
Email: info@healthwatchkirklees.co.uk