“Hi, is there anything I can do to get help with the electric? This is a joke. I’m using 10 pound every 2 days. Am so scared for this week off with the kids because of the electric.”

When Leah emailed the Contact Point helpline, she was struggling – like many other unwaged carers – with the cost of living. So many basics like food and clothing were getting more and more expensive…but her biggest worry was the utility bills. In her one bed flat, everything runs off electricity so the metre just kept running down all the time.

She was reluctant to ask for help at first: “As a mother, you don’t want to admit you can’t manage”. But when she did, her fears were put to rest. Her support worker made her feel at ease about discussing her problems and accessing help with her bills. Leah says, “she was my absolute wing person”.

And so when her fridge freezer broke down recently, Leah felt much more confident about asking for help. She got in touch with the Contact Point again, and was supported to access a free replacement.  As a result, she no longer needs to rely on family to store her food for her – or to “panic about getting into debt”.

Leah says: “I didn’t really want to reach out and let people know how much I was struggling. But when I did, the help was unbelievable.  I’m 100% so glad I got in contact when I did.”

We’re supporting people to access cash grants to buy essentials until their next payment comes in, and emergency top-ups for the electricity to keep the lights, heating or vital medical equipment on.

We’re also making referrals to food banks or community grocers so they can keep food on the table. And if an essential piece of household equipment – a fridge, washing machine or bed – breaks, we’re supporting people to find a free or low-cost replacement.

To help longer term, we’re also referring people for benefits advice so they can be sure they’re getting all the income they’re entitled to.

Our helpline – 0161 543 8000, is open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm and 10am – 6pm on Wednesdays. You can also email us at contactpoint@carersmanchester.org.uk.