As the cost of living crisis challenges our basic human needs, rising costs mean many of us are having to adapt our spending to keep on top of expenses.
You might be having to make tough decisions, cutting back on what you're spending on food, heating and your health to pay your bills.
The cost of living crisis shouldn't be a barrier to care.
Prioritise your health. If you have a chronic condition, a new illness causing concern or feel under the weather, seek the appropriate professional healthcare support. Many pharmacists can support you with everyday health concerns, meaning you may not need to visit your GP. You should only go to a hospital in an emergency.
Take your medication. Many of us take medication to stay healthy and manage existing health conditions. With the recent increase in prescription charges, rationing medicines to save money may seem like a good idea, but it can lead to health complications in the long run. You might be eligible for support with your prescription with a Prescription Prepayment Certificate. Prescriptions are free for those over 60.
Keep your appointments. Please attend any pre-arranged or regular appointments with your GP, dentist, optician or hospital. If you're worried about the increase in transport fares, check out what support is available when travelling to your GP, hospital or other NHS services here.
Talk to someone. Lots of charities offer free support if you need to talk to someone about your physical or mental health, and some give financial advice if you're struggling. Many charities will gladly point you towards further help in your community or local area.
Get the support you're entitled to. Make sure you're getting all the benefits and grants you're eligible for. Citizens Advice is a great place to start if you want help on anything from housing to debt management.
Speak to your local council. Most local councils offer residents support and advice about the cost of living crisis. They may have a dedicated hotline you can phone or pop-up information events. Check out your local council website to find out more.
Seek help from a food bank. Many people buy less food because of current financial pressures, which can significantly impact physical and mental health. If you're struggling to feed yourself or your family, there is no shame in asking for help from a food bank. You can find food banks near you on the Trussell Trust website.
Find a warm hub. Set up and run by community groups, charities or voluntary organisations, warm hubs turn public spaces into welcoming spaces where people can go to stay warm in the colder months. Set up to support people struggling with rising costs and loneliness, hubs offer warm food, snacks or hot drinks to visitors.
They also provide a space for people to come together and interact with others. Some may offer other facilities like Wi-Fi, access to financial advice and activities to pass the time. You can find your nearest warm hub by checking with your local council or through the Warm Space website to find somewhere near you.
Speak to your local Healthwatch. Need advice and information about health and care services, or what support is available from your local council? Healthwatch Somerset is here to help you.
Need more support? Check out these helpful links for further advice and information on coping with the cost of living crisis:
Hygiene poverty is on the rise. Are you affected?
Hygiene poverty has steadily risen since the start of the pandemic and has only worsened during the cost of living crisis. A reported 3,150,000 adults in the UK are now affected. That's 6% of UK adults, 5% of which are classed as "working adults".
"Hygiene poverty is not being able to afford many of the everyday hygiene and personal grooming...leaving us caught between being able to heat our homes, pay the rent, eat or be clean." - The Hygiene Bank
If you are struggling to afford personal hygiene products, help is available:
Bloody Good Period provide free personal hygiene products that can be collected from some community services such as food banks and drop in services.