Nov 18th, 2022
Mapping the cost of living catastrophe
By Hannah Graham
“I’m down to one meal a day to make sure my family are fed.”
“I could lose both my home and business.”
“I’m scared about the future to the point that I don’t know if I can choose to raise a family.”
These are just a few of the heartbreaking comments we received when we asked 38 Degrees supporters to share the impact the cost of living crisis was having on their lives.
As we read story after devastating story, it became clear: crisis was no longer a strong enough word. This is a cost of living catastrophe – and without meaningful action from the Government, it will only get worse.
At 38 Degrees we know that for change to happen, decision-makers need to hear from the people worst affected. We’re always working to boost our supporters’ voices so they can’t be ignored, whether that’s on our website or through stories in national and local media. But with the sheer number of people impacted by the cost of living catastrophe, isolated stories, however heartbreaking, no longer seemed to be enough.
We wanted to find a way to illustrate the huge scale of the problem – without losing sight of those individual voices.
That’s why we created our Cost Of Living Map, an interactive map that acts as an ever-growing record of what this financial disaster means for people up and down the UK. Each pinprick on this map represents a real person, who has used their voice to speak out about the stress, fear and anxiety that the cost of living catastrophe is forcing upon them.
With well over 1,000 stories added to our map, we next needed to make sure it was seen – so that politicians couldn’t ignore the suffering it highlights.
We reached out to journalists at The Northern Agenda, a partnership of prominent regional newspapers in the north of England, and worked with them to create a version of our map that could be embedded on their websites. The result? A series of powerful stories on some of the biggest regional news websites in the county – with the words of our supporters there for all to see. You can see us featured in The Manchester Evening News, The Chronicle and The Journal in Newcastle; YorkshireLive and more. It didn’t stop there, as other news outlets in the same group (Reach PLC) also took on our story: we appeared in titles including WalesOnline, GlasgowLive, EdinburghLive, The Burton Mail. The resource also caught the eye of reporters at other titles, including The Eastern Daily Press and The Northern Echo.
Thanks to these articles, thousands of people will have read our supporters’ words. We hope it will help inspire people to action, and offer some comfort to anyone who is struggling: you’re not alone, and there are plenty of us working together to fight for change. Just as importantly, we know that MPs monitor the coverage in their local newspapers, so by placing stories in them, we’re reaching decision-makers close to home.
And it doesn’t stop there. As submissions come in, we’ll keep adding to the map and sharing the stories that feature on it. The cost of living catastrophe is a huge, daunting challenge that requires long-term action to help the most vulnerable. While the Government offers sticking-plaster solutions, our supporters won’t stop reminding them of the true scale and urgency of this catastrophe until they take real action to tackle it.