A group of volunteers have set up a new initiative to provide financial support to Downham residents, particularly during this period of a cost-of-living crisis and record inflation.
The Downham Solidarity Fund aims to support people struggling financially by providing direct grants to be spent however is needed. The volunteers, inspired by similar groups in Cambridge Manchester and across London, created this fund which seeks donations from people within the community and redistributes the money to those in the community who need it.
Grants up to £50 can be requested from the fund once per month, with the only condition being that you live in Downham Market. The volunteers don’t ask for justifications or explanations of what you need the money for. Robert Shippey, one of the volunteers who created the fund, said “we are set up as mutual aid, a model which was embraced across the country during the covid lockdowns, where neighbours and strangers in communities offer support to each other without barriers and bureaucracy.” He added that one of the core ideas of the Downham Solidarity Fund is “we trust that people know how to meet their own needs.“
According to recent census data, 57% of households in Downham Market are classed as “deprived” in at least one of the four categories measured (education, employment, health or housing), higher than the Norfolk and national average. The country has seen record inflation this year which has caused essentials like food, heating and electricity costs to increase in what is often described as a cost-of-living crisis.
The fund provides grants to anyone living in the Downham Market town covered by the “PE38 9” postcode area, though the group said they will review the area covered in future as the project develops.
The Downham Solidarity Fund is asking people in the town who can spare a little extra to donate to support neighbours who are in need. The fund is currently accepting requests for grants. Read more at https://opencollective.com/downhamsolidarity
Robert Shippey is a volunteer for Downham Solidarity Fund and also writes for downhamweb.