Friends of Parkwood Surgery

The Cost of Living Crisis

We know the cost of living is having an impact on everybody’s lives. A survey by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy in September 2022 found that two-thirds of its members were seeing patients who cited the cost of living as a reason for their mental health decline. 61% also reported that their clients were anxious over whether they’d be able to pay their household bills.

Whilst money worries are not strictly a medical issue, we know that financial difficulties impact upon people’s physical and mental health.

Here, FPS brings together some sources of support for those finding the current situation challenging. 

Let us know if you find any of them useful or if you come across any others!

On this page, you’ll find some links to:

Help with energy bills

Help with the kids

Help with food

Help with your finances

Help with energy bills

The Hertfordshire Energy Advice Tool (HEAT) App gives you a walkthrough of potential areas in your house which might be wasting energy. You might find some big savings possible by turning off some appliances or changing how you use them. Download the app for free from Google Play or the App Store.

Once you’ve made some simple swaps, Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) has some further tips on how to make your home as energy efficient as possible. This includes schemes to access funding for those eligible to improve insulation. Find out more.

As we mentioned in our article on social prescribing, HertsHelp is a network of community organisations in Hertfordshire working together. They’re there to listen and help you find independent support, guidance and information you need to get the most out of life.

Call them on 0300 123 4044 or email or visit their website for more details., the website founded by Martin Lewis, has put together a  ‘Heat the Human Not the Home’ guide providing tips on ensuring the people in a house stay warm.

Help with the kids


If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk through the Healthy Start Scheme. If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. Your benefit will be added onto this card every 4 weeks.

You can use your card to buy: plain liquid cow’s milk; fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables; fresh, dried, and tinned pulses; infant formula milk based on cow’s milk.

You can also use your card to collect: Healthy Start vitamins – these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding; vitamin drops for babies and young children – these are suitable from birth to 4 years old

Find out more and apply here.

For cheap family days out, don’t overlook your Tesco Clubcard vouchers. The points are worth up to 3 times more used like this than used against your grocery bills, and just might give your family a little treat this winter. To find out more, check the website

The government offers support to families in many ways, including: tax-free childcare; 15 or 30 hours of free childcare (dependent upon age of the child); child benefit; free school meals.

Make sure you know what you and your family are entitled to and check the website.

Help with food

Run by DENS, the Dacorum Foodbank is part of a nationwide network of food banks, supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK. You can find out more from the Foodbank’s own website.

To access emergency food, you’ll need to follow the directions outlined here

And if you’re in the fortunate position of being able to donate food, you can find out what and where to contribute here

Hemel Hempstead’s Community Fridge works to reduce food waste and provide free or cheap food that would otherwise be thrown away. On Wednesdays and Saturdays at Highfield Community Centre, you can get good surplus food free of charge or donate food you know you won’t eat. Find out more.

Apps such as Too Good To Go and Olio allow you to find food from businesses and neighbours which would otherwise go to waste. This makes it both a cheap and sustainable way of feeding the family – win win! You can download the apps from the App Store or Google Play.

Jack Monroe (aka ‘the Bootstrap Cook’) has a plethora of recipes available on her blog. Each is labelled according to how much it costs (with some as little as 10p) or how long they take to cook (thinking about those energy bills).

Help with finances

Dacorum First Credit Union‘s aim is to provide people who live or work in Dacorum with a simple and affordable way to save and borrow money. They are a cooperative, staffed by volunteers with any profits being returned to the members as a dividend.

Whilst you do need to be a member with savings in order to benefit, their loans are charged at just 1% interest and there are no penalties for early repayments. Find out more on their website. provides guides and offers to help people save money in all areas of their lives. You can sign up for weekly emails to bring the latest news into your inbox.

Dacorum Citizen Advice Bureau offers help and support with all kinds of problems. If you’re not sure what help there is for you, or if you need support in applying for it, why not contact them?

Every penny counts, so make sure you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to in order to boost your income. These include: Universal Credit; Marriage Allowance; Carer’s Allowance; Pension Credit. Check the government website for more details.