Support charity Turn2us explains why some in financial hardship may be not be receiving the support they’re entitled to…
2014 has been a difficult year financially for many people across the country. Recent research* has shown that millions of people are now working in low paid and insecure jobs, due to lack of alternative employment, while food and energy costs continue to soar above inflation.
Help could be available to those in financial hardship from the thousands of grant-giving charities in the UK; yet a survey** recently carried out by the charity Turn2us found that awareness of this support is low. More than two-thirds (71%) of Turn2us website users with disabilities said they were completely unaware of charitable grants before finding this help, and nearly half (48%) had been struggling financially for over a year before checking what support could be available to them.
As a result, almost three-quarters (72%) have been forced to cut back on food and heating, and over a quarter (27%) have turned to payday lenders.
What are charitable grants?
Turn2us is currently running a campaign titled ‘Go for a Grant’, which aims to help raise awareness of charitable grants so that more people in financial need can find out what support could be available to them.
There are over 3000 grant-giving charities in the UK distributing some £288 million in grants and services to individuals in need every year***. Said charities will have been originally set up to assist people on low incomes according to their current or previous occupation, the area in which they live, or needs arising from a specific health condition or disability.
Charities can often provide one-off grants to pay for essential household items or repairs, disability equipment, educational costs and respite care. Some also offer non-financial support in the form of benefits and debt advice, counselling and career guidance. Many charities will also help the dependants of those that the relevant fund is set up to support, including children, partners and ex-partners.
How can I access this help?
Turn2us has a free online Grants Search tool with details of these charities, their eligibility criteria and how to apply. The tool allows you to search for grants and other support according to your particular needs and circumstances.
If you have identified that you may be eligible to receive support from one or more of the charities, the next step is to make an enquiry. Many of the charities listed in Grants Search will accept online enquiries via the Turn2us website, and some will also accept applications in this way. The listings of other charities will explain how you can make an enquiry and apply direct.
Once you have made your initial enquiry, if you meet the charity’s criteria and they are able to help, you will be invited to complete their application process. This will usually involve completing a detailed application form containing questions regarding your background, finances and reasons for applying. Some charitable funds employ case workers who may be able to offer support in completing your application.
It’s also worth remembering that if the financial support you need exceeds the limits of one particular charity, you may be able to get the rest from another organisation that you or a dependent has a connection to.
Robert had been working full-time, until the arthritis in his knees and back became so severe that he was unable to continue in employment. He was registered as disabled and his wife gave up work to care for him.
After claiming the welfare support they were entitled to, Robert and his wife were only just making ends meet. When an occupational therapist recommended that Robert purchase a riser recliner chair to help his back, he was upset that he could not afford such a large expense.
Searching online for what help might be available, Robert came across Turn2us and used the Grants Search tool to see if there was any possibility of obtaining some sort of funding. He found a charity linked to his previous profession and was able to make an application. The charity researched the type of chair he needed, and Robert was delighted when he received a grant to cover the cost. His particular circumstances meant that he was also able to receive an additional £200 to help with household bills.
Robert comments, “I am really grateful – there’s no way I would have been able to afford the chair on my own, as it’s so difficult to save when there really isn’t anything spare. The chair has made my life a lot better; I can get up and down without so much pain.”
To find out more about Turn2us’ ‘Go for a Grant’ campaign and the charity’s other work, visit www.turn2us.org.uk
*Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion – Joseph Rowntree Foundation 24 November 2014
**Figures are from Turn2us’ online survey completed by 1161 Turn2us website users (looking for financial help for themselves) between 10 September and 31 October. Results were then analysed by different demographics
***Directory of Social Change 2014