‘Cost of living? It’s the cost of just surviving more like’

Costs are spiralling and government ministers are proposing further spending cuts and pay restraint, in a country where the effects of austerity are still obvious. Peter Blackburn investigates the impact of budget cuts and squeezed finances on the health of communities in Nottingham 

Saturday 03 December 2022 10:26 GMT
People in Nottingham, like much of the country, are feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis
People in Nottingham, like much of the country, are feeling the effects of the cost of living crisis (Getty)

Garry Lovelock is not a religious man. But when the lonely nights sleeping on the streets, the “grubby” washing in McDonald’s toilets and the endless fines for boarding trains without a ticket become too much he finds himself in church, praying – just hoping for “a helping hand”.

The other likely destination on those hopeless nights is the accident and emergency department at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre. Lovelock, 41, lost his house and employment after his wife died of leukaemia. When he is emotional and upset he drinks. It is the causal spark of a repetitive cycle in which he is picked up by the police, taken to A&E, sees a doctor after sobering up and is told he is fit to go. Not go home, of course. But go. It is a costly cycle with the average interaction with A&E estimated at £297 by the NHS, not to mention the serious mental and physical toll this repetition has on Lovelock, too.

“There is so much of that – not addressing the root causes and just using sticking plasters [like seeing a doctor in A&E],” says Ann Bremner, who runs The Friary homelessness charity in West Bridgford, Nottingham, where Lovelock has been provided a meal and support in his search for employment.

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