Raising awareness of the financial and wellbeing support available from grant-giving charities – ACO’s Here to Help campaign
By Hannah Page, Marketing & Communications Manager, The Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO)
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, we sadly anticipate more people will be plunged into poverty due to the economic impacts of the crisis as we expect further job losses and redundancies once the government’s Job Retention (furlough) scheme ends. We also expect more people may need mental health and wellbeing support due to the impacts lockdown and long-term isolation has caused.
The Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO), the umbrella body for benevolent funds (charities that give financial support to individuals), is therefore running the Here to Help campaign to highlight the support available from benevolent charities for those facing financial hardship, who may be struggling to afford basic essentials, or are facing mental health struggles during this challenging time.
While people tend to know the big-name charities, many are unaware there are hundreds of these benevolent funds operating throughout the UK to support individuals and their families through offering financial grants or other support services. Grants can be awarded in all kinds of circumstances, and requests are judged on a case-by-case basis, but some of the most common reasons include help paying for day-to-day essentials (food, bills etc.), furniture and white goods, disability adaptions, childcare costs, covering bankruptcy/insolvency fees and more.
Other examples of support awarded throughout the pandemic by these charities include paying for interview clothes where someone was made redundant, support with funeral costs, IT equipment so children could continue studies from home and paying for someone’s internet as libraries closed. Many benevolent funds also provide a range of holistic support services for free to those in need, from counselling services and helplines, online wellbeing materials, to sleep therapy, addiction support and advice services, such as debt or benefits advice.
In terms of finding the right benevolent fund to support someone, most have a certain group they help. Many are occupational funds, supporting those that have ever worked in a certain profession (including former employees) and their families. Many occupations have a benevolent fund, from hospitality workers, retail staff and carers through to architects, bankers and former miners.
There are also benevolent funds specifically for older people, children, disabled people, homeless people and women. Some benevolent charities help those that live in a certain region of the UK and there are general grant-giving charities that will award grants and furniture items to those that don’t fit the criteria of other benevolent funds.
To find the right benevolent fund the Turn2us Grants Search is a simple tool that helps people find support they may be eligible for. By someone filling out a few details about themselves (or behalf of someone), such as location, age and any previous jobs, the Turn2us Grants Search’s database finds all benevolent charities that person could apply for support from.
The ACO has also made a short guide to support available from benevolent charities, which is available on its website to download. The ACO is encouraging organisations working closely with the public to share this guide with individuals that approach them looking for help.