Life is slowly returning to normal, but many of us are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. It’s okay not to feel okay. The main thing is to know there’s help to get us through
One thing those of us who are online can be thankful for is the internet. It was a life-saver through lockdown, connecting us to friends and family. Now we need it more than ever. Not just to manage our finances better, but for anyone who is struggling (mentally or physically), to reach out and find help. That’s why we’ve devised our Top 5 Tips for using the worldwide web post-lockdown.
There’s no need to suffer in silence with the kind of things that only get worse without help. Debt can’t wait. Anxiety can’t wait. Abuse can’t wait.
Each one of us is important. And trained workers are eager to help.
There are numerous websites for every type of advice we might every need. In fact, the Citizens Advice website has almost everything in one place. Swotting up on our rights or next steps online, beats queuing or waiting for a local advisor. But they’re not the only advice agency in town.
For housing queries or rent arrears, there’s Shelter and local support charities (Search: housing advice + [our town]). We can also check our local authority website to find details of our council’s housing team.
For mental health, there’s MIND, although there are dozens of great agencies, each with something different to offer. The same goes for domestic abuse, sadly on the rise during lockdown, where Women’s Aid is one option, but there are others. Similarly, kids at risk might turn to Childline, while concerned adults can approach the NSPCC. Every type of illness or disease usually has a specialist charity that in turn has a website, we just need to look them up.
Money help is all over the internet too. Now really is the time to check everything is in place. Start with the Quids in! Future-Proof Finance Quiz, to see what we might want to think about now, next and in future. From there, we can find advice on how to make those changes from MoneySavingExpert, the Money and Pensions Service or direct from the likes of National Debtline or Turn2us. See our list of national contacts here but don’t forget there will be local agencies too.
Finding work in lockdown was near on impossible for a lot of us. Now that businesses are reopening, it should mean the job market starts to improve. Some employers are desperate for staff, like in the leisure sector and social care. With the furlough scheme ending in September, there could be mass unemployment, so get that foot in the door!
We’ve got a whole host of resources to help get you started including tips on writing a personal statement, how to use social media to find your dream job and bag an interview, confidence tricks for interviews, and how to make the most of your skills.
Searching for jobs online is quick and easy. Our guide to finding the right job explains which job sites to use, how to register with employers and get email alerts, tips on writing a CV and a handy video on how to upload a CV.
The first rule for people on low incomes to max the cash is to go through a benefits check. We are entitled to all sorts that many of us don’t even know about. A big one, for example, is help with council tax when we’re claiming Universal Credit. There is over £30 billion of unclaimed benefit, so it’s worth a look. We can visit Turn2us to see what we can claim. If we’re going to claim Universal Credit but feel a bit wary of the online process, LearnMyWay will walk through the process first.
Another way to make cash quick, is to have a clear-out. Remember, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. There’s a big market for ‘pre-loved’ stuff, whether at car boot sales or online through gumtree or eBay. For those of us with a talent for making things like jewellery, greetings cards or soft toys, get creative. Since lockdown there’s been a shift in the way we shop, and buying second-hand or making your own, has become really popular. We could be selling these online too, check out our how-to guide here.
Food fast became the key issue during the crisis. Panic-buying, mile-long queues and empty shelves proved that. Looking back, it was a bit of a nightmare.
Community Hubs were set up in every area of the UK with teams on standby to help people unable to shop for themselves. The hubs still exist and should be able to offer support to people who are struggling. Visit your local council’s website to find details of how to get in touch.
The lessons we learnt during lockdown still apply. Buying in bulk is the best idea. It’s a good way to keep costs down too. Stick to some basics and don’t get tempted by offers for things we don’t need. This article could help.
Buying in bulk is only an option if we have somewhere to store everything safely. A fridge and a freezer, and an oven make everything easier (and cheaper). But not everyone has what they need. Grants are available, though, and the best place might be to start is Turn2us who can often help. This article has more details. In Wales, the Discretionary Assistance Fund can help with buying appliances. Scottish residents can apply for a community care grant via the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Finally, recipes for cheap eats can be found everywhere. Our special edition Food Guide is jam-packed with ideas. Our favourite expert is Lorna Cooper, who set up Feed Your Family For Around £20. She recently featured in Quids in! (read it here) and you can find her fantastic website here.
Samaritans offer free support and the chance to talk to someone if things are getting on top of us. As well as their phonelines and offering email support, they also have loads of really helpful info on their website. Everything from dealing with working from home to worrying about our friends or relatives is covered. It’s well worth a browse.
Call (free and 24 hours): 116 123