The Cost of Living Crisis - Tough Times, Smart Solutions

24 Mar 2023 Robbie Best    Last updated: 27 Mar 2023

NICVA has spoken to the sector about the Cost of Living Crisis and you’ve told us about the issues you’re facing and the help you need.  

Our sector is facing a cost of living crisis bleeding into every aspect of our work. We are facing increased demand and are being expected to meet this demand with fewer resources.  

To really get to the bottom of the problems we’re facing, NICVA have spoken to the sector and you’ve told us loud and clear about the issues you’re facing and the help you need.  

We carried out surveys in July 2022 and early in 2023, wanting to hear your stories so we can not only tailor our support, but so we can speak with a clear, authoritative voice to government about the danger our sector is in.  

Here is what you told us.  

The Biggest Issues  

According to our 2023 survey, the biggest concerns facing the sector were the increasing cost of fuel and energy (78.9%), wellbeing of staff/volunteers (56.5%) and the potential increasing of staff wages (54.3%).  

All of this has a knock on effect on day-to-day operations and service delivery, affecting real people in communities all across Northern Ireland.  

An organisation providing mental health services reported an increase in demand for their counselling services: 

“We have a huge increase in demand for professional counselling for those clients going into huge anxiety worrying how they are going to pay their bills” 

Other organisations reported a decrease in demand for services due to competition with other increased living costs. People just don’t have the money to pay for some of the services our sector provides.  

Several organisations were struggling with basic running costs, falling memberships and the closure of membership groups due to members not being able to afford the price of membership. 

We also heard funding from Government departments did not increase in line with inflation.  

One organisation felt that wages should not be “potentially” increased but rather stressed that they were a professional, not for profit organisation but not a “work for no wages sector”.  

Vital Services Having to be Cut 

Several organisations have been forced to reduce the services they provided to families, children, and young people.  

In particular, parenting programmes, family support sessions and family advocacy services for parents/carers of children, young people and adults with disabilities/additional needs.  

Some families have now been placed on waiting lists to gain access to support services.  

For other organisations, family support, mentoring and listening ear services had to be paused.  

An organisation reported a reduction in refreshments provided to children and young people at a drop-in centre.  

In many cases, this was the only warm evening meal that these children received.  

Many children and young people services have been stopped due to the lack of funding, in particular groups for children and young people experiencing anxiety. 

Most shocking of all, an organisation was forced to reduce the number of days they provided oxygen therapy sessions to service users, in a bid to reduce heating and electricity consumption 

What Help Does the Sector Need?  

We asked the sector what help it needed and this is what they told us.  

  1. Continued direct financial support to reduce energy costs  

  1. Continued direct financial support to reduce other running costs  

  1. Continued direct financial support to reduce wage costs 

What is NICVA Doing?  

Our sector can't continue to respond to this crisis without support. 

NICVA's priority is to ensure organisations are fully supported in delivering their vital services during these challenging times and in the future. 

As well as continuing to give advice, training and suport, and advocating for our sector at all levels of government, we’ll be hosting a series of events across Northern Ireland to hear from our sector co-design the solutions to the problems we are facing.  

These events will be a safe space to share your concerns, learn from other organisations and have a say on the support your organisation and beneficiaries need. 

By sharing your stories and information with us, you will help shape the support that NICVA provides to the sector and to influence our asks of Government.  

We want to ensure we hear from as many and wide-ranging organisations as possible, so we will run similar events across Northern Ireland, in partnership with local networks, to provide maximum opportunity for you to participate and have your say. 

Regional In Person events: 

You can download our full research findings here.'s picture
by Robbie Best

Head of Communications

[email protected]

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