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In the warm autumn sun on Morecambe’s promenade, it is almost possible to forget for a moment the cost of living crisis gripping the country.

Daytrippers catch the drips from their ice cream cones, children shout "take a picture, mummy" from the climbing frame, tourists pose for photos with the statue of comic Eric Morecambe, others sit and contemplate the view of the Lake District across the bay.

Nature has been kind to this sweep of the Lancashire coast, and Morecambe echoes to the heyday of the British seaside.

But, in reality, there is no escaping the economic onslaught facing British households and down the promenade, past the demolished theme park, in Morecambe’s West End those challenges are most visible.

Jasmin Clark lives in a West End flat with her two daughters.

Shielding them from the worst of this crisis has been her priority but she admits it is getting harder to do, especially with eight-year-old Maisy.

"I think she’s starting to notice that things are going up and we’re not doing as much as we used to because bills come first," Jasmin said.

People spending more time at friends’ houses to cut costs

Turning off appliances, spending time at friends’ houses to save on heating and electricity, cutting back on car use, comes at a cost.

"It is so stressful and then you can’t sleep and it affects your mental health.

"From a parent’s point of view, you have to put this face on like nothing’s fazing you, you’re all fine, and the minute the kids go to bed, you’re like, ‘Oh, that was hard’.

"I feel sorry for them. I don’t want them to struggle. That’s not what you want for your kids."

Jasmin’s family is one of a number Sky News has spent time with in Morecambe to gage the growing anxiety over rising bills and uncertainty over the future.

In the heart of the West End, Stanleys Community Centre has become a lifeline for a growing number of people, offering food, warmth and support.

Centre manager Robyn Thomas said: "This year has been absolutely exceptional. The need is increasing at a far higher rate than I thought possible.

"I had a 92-year-old man two weeks ago who went out into his garden and shouted for help because he’s got no food.

"It is horrific and it is affecting everybody and there’s a lot of people in this area that won’t ask for help."

More ‘desperate’ families attending meditation sessions

The numbers attending the weekly meditation sessions at the centre have also grown.

"We’ve been going for 10 years and I’ve never known people this desperate," said Julie Meyfroidt, who offers the sessions on behalf of the non-profit organisation Tara Centre.

"When you take away people’s dignity, you take away security, being able to pay bills, heat their houses, you take away the most important thing which is peace of mind.

"Home has become an enemy because it is creating so many problems, like bills you can’t possibly pay."

Among those attending the sessions is Louise Stanfield. She lives with her husband Clive, son Robert and a friendly collection of cats and dogs.

The family relies on a benefits system which is not keeping pace with inflation. "It should go up," Louise said.

"It’s not in line with the economy of today. Where do they think people who haven’t had that raise are getting the money to pay for things?"

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She had to give up work due to ill health.

"I feel like I’m a stain on society. People think you just want a handout. They don’t understand how living below the poverty line affects people.

"We feel like Oliver Twist with a begging bowl. It shouldn’t have to be this hard."

Chris Martin thought his dream of owning his first home, in Morecambe’s West End, was about to become reality. Until the chaos in the mortgage markets saw his offer withdrawn.

"It was heartbreaking," he said.

"I’ve been saving up for five or six years now I’m re-evaluating and just starting again, maybe holding out for another year and just hoping and praying."

Chris’s mortgage broker Graeme Bell from SaintRock Mortgages told Sky News: "Lenders are reacting to uncertain future pricing conditions. It is now more and more important for people with mortgages to speak to a mortgage broker about their current or future deals."

For now, he lives with his sister, her partner and two children. At work he faces a daily reminder of what he’s missing out on – he has his own business roofing family homes.

© Sky News 2023