How families can find support through charitable grants

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Families struggling to make ends meet could be eligible for support from one of the thousands of
grant-giving charities available. Here Karen Holmes, Senior Welfare Specialist at the charity Turn2us
explains more about this help and how to access it.

2014 has certainly been a tough year financially for many families across the country. With recent news headlines highlighting the rise of low paid and insecure jobs, and living costs continuing to soar, household budgets are feeling the strain.

As a result of this, two-thirds of the parents we help say they’ve had no choice but to rely on financial support from family and friends, and over three-fifths have been forced to cut back on food and heating. In addition, we are hearing that families are taking on increasing amounts of debt, with over a quarter of parents using credit cards to pay their bills and essentials, and over a fifth turning to payday lenders.

That’s why we are working to raise awareness of other support available to help families, in the form of charitable grants.

What are charitable grants?

Charitable grants are sums of money given by charities to people who qualify for their help. They are given as a gift or award and don’t need to be paid back.

There is generally very low awareness of charitable grants, with over two-thirds of parents saying they were completely unaware of this help before finding it through our website. Yet there are over 3,000 grant-giving charities in the UK, which distribute £268 million in grants and services to people in need every year.

Each grant-giving charity is set up to assist people on low incomes that have something in common such as a particular occupation, the area they live or a specific health condition or disability. Charities can often provide one-off grants to pay for things like essential household items or repairs, bills and educational costs. Some also offer non-financial support in the form of benefits and debt advice, counselling and career guidance.

Many charities also help the dependents of people their fund is set up to support – including partners, ex-partners and children.

How can I access this help?

Turn2us has a free online Grants Search tool containing 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.

Once you have identified if you may be eligible for any of the charities’ grants, the next step is to make an enquiry.

Many of the charities listed in the Grants Search accept online enquiries via the Turn2us website, and some also accept applications this way. The other charities include details on how you can make an enquiry and apply to them directly.

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 the application process which usually involves completing a detailed application form, covering questions on your background, finances and reasons for applying. Some charitable funds also employ case workers who may be able to offer support with 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 that you or a dependent has a connection to.

Gary’s story

Many of the people we have helped have experienced financial hardship due to a sudden and unexpected change in circumstances such as job loss, family breakdown or illness.

One of these people is Gary, a father of three, who for many years ran his own business until it was hit by the recession and he was forced in to bankruptcy.

Gary had to use his assets to pay off his debts, selling the family home and car and using all his savings. His family moved in to rented accommodation, with welfare benefits the only source of income.

Gary says: “Things that I once took for granted, such as being able to pay a bill, became daily pressures. We had to rely on the support of our extended family or go without.”

Searching online for support, Gary came across the Turn2us website and found out he could be eligible for help from a charity linked to his profession. He made a successful application, receiving a grant which helped with the family’s daily living costs.

He says: “We did not believe that such help existed. The charity was so helpful and understanding of our situation and receptive to our needs at a very difficult time.”

For more information about charitable grants, please visit www.turn2us.org.uk.

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