EC1 has a proud history of people taking action together

Cllr Ruth Hayes feels heartened at support available in our community

An image of Cllr Ruth Hayes
Cllr Ruth Hayes.

Every time we go to the shops, prices have risen. Utility bills have never been higher. For many of us, it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet, and we have the rest of winter to get through – including Christmas.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the pressures and the scale of the problems, and EC1 faces particular issues due to the wide income disparities between residents. For some, it is impossible to afford the basics, while a couple of streets away are restaurants, bars and leisure facilities that are completely out of reach.

Islington Council has recently completed a listening exercise with residents Let’s Talk Islington – and the Taskforce on Inequality has produced a report on action that can be taken. The exercise involved engagement with a wide range of people and used different methods to ensure that a wide variety of experiences were included.

One of the recommendations is about building collective power in communities, and our neighbourhood has some brilliant community groups and initiatives. These include Tenants and Residents Associations, community centres, Friends of Parks, museums, faith communities and young people’s groups. We are also seeing a renewed energy in trades unions including local action in communications, transport, education, and with more to come.

I was pleased to be able to attend The Peel’s recent packed event on the cost of living emergency which highlighted local services and how they can assist people in getting through these tough times. The Council website highlights many of the sources of help – see below- and information is available in libraries and community centres.

It is really worth finding out what you might be entitled to and whether there are ways you could boost your income, deal with debts and/or get help with costs. There is important information to be aware of – for example, if you receive your energy rebate in the form of vouchers, these need to be used in three months, so make sure that they don’t expire. The Council is working with local community centres, libraries and other groups to offer safe warm spaces through the winter, and some of these will be linked to free activities.

EC1 has a proud history of people taking action together to improve their futures. There are some issues which can only be solved at a national level, but we can support each other in practical ways (often improving our own wellbeing in the process) and can campaign for a more just distribution of wealth that ensures that we become a more fair and equal society. It is really inspiring to see the energy, commitment and creativity of community activists in the area and the wider borough, and I would like to thank everyone who is involved in trying to build a better future.

Seasons greetings to read- ers and I hope that everyone is able to enjoy the festivities and that you all have a happy and healthy New Year.

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