A record number of families in Suffolk are "now struggling exponentially" with their wellbeing - as they continue to feel the aftermath of the pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Support organisation, Home-Start in Suffolk, saw the number of families accessing the service more than double from 564 in 2020/21 to 1,548 in 2021/22. 

The charity helps households with children up to the age of 12 through a range of challenging issues, including poverty, mental health, domestic abuse, and more.

"It really has been a tough few years for everyone and we have seen families hit really hard as a result of the pandemic and now struggling exponentially with the increase to their cost of living," said Tara Spence, chief executive of Home-Start in Suffolk. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Tara Spence, chief executive at Home-Start in SuffolkTara Spence, chief executive at Home-Start in Suffolk (Image: Big Fish Photography)

"Our services have been accessed by record numbers of families in the last year and this sharp rise is showing no sign of slowing.

"Families who never before would have needed our support are finding themselves struggling and reaching out for help from our team."

The increase in demand is causing a "huge strain" on the organisation's existing 280 volunteers - forcing bosses to call for more staff to help cope with the pressure.

"In order to cope with this level of demand and avoid waiting lists, we need to recruit and train more volunteers," added Tara. 

"We hope the New Year might inspire people to consider taking on a challenge and would really like to encourage people to consider volunteering."

The news comes as people across Suffolk continue to feel the impact of soaring bills and rising living costs. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Energy bills are set to rise again in April as government support is scaled backEnergy bills are set to rise again in April as government support is scaled back (Image: Newsquest)

Energy bills are expected to rise again in April - with government support also predicted to be scaled back.

As a result, pressure on support organisations is expected to grow throughout the year.

"Home-Start works because it is such a simple yet powerful concept," said Tara. 

"Volunteers are matched with a family, then visit or call them once a week to provide vital emotional support and practical help. 

"A new year is always a great opportunity to re-evaluate life goals.

"And it would be amazing if people could put volunteering on their New Year goals list.”