As the cost of living continues to soar, we are all noticing the effects. But while many of us are anxious about our household costs for the autumn and winter many of the families we support are struggling to survive, frightened by the future and fearful about how they will cope. We are already seeing a rise in demand for our practical support services and requests for emergency food and fuel vouchers and in this feature, I wanted to share with you all how we are responding to the crisis and how you can help.
Welcare will continue to provide practical support for the children and families we work with who are in need. This support is tailored to the individual needs of families we support and may involve the provision of supermarket vouchers or a referral to the most appropriate local foodbank. Through extensive community links our staff team has information about local support available from statutory and local sources including charitable trusts. The eligibility criteria for local trusts varies, some is restricted by parish boundaries and postcodes others by the type of support they will fund (i.e., fuel payments or provision of white goods) We use our local knowledge to navigate the system to access the most appropriate help and if required back this up with support with budgeting or signposting/referral to a specialist support agency including Citizens Advice. Our staff and supporters share knowledge of corporate schemes and over the next few months we anticipate more of these will be launched especially by supermarkets and energy companies. For example, in the last year we accessed SIM Cards and Data from Vodafone, Laptops and birthday cakes for families in need.
In addition to using our professional networks and position as a verified referral agency we have access to grant funding from trusts who donate to us for families in need. Although the sums are relatively small, they provide an immediate lifeline and without the time delay and administrative burden or a full funding application.
We join campaigns and lobbying led by the national charities and umbrella groups including recent campaigns by Children England, NCVO, the Children’s Society and ACEVO who all have policy and parliamentary teams with expertise and contacts with government departments and ministers. In this way we can focus our limited resources on continuing our direct work on the ground but lend our voice and support.
Supporting our annual Families in Crisis Campaign is a practical way that individual and church supporters can help. All funds raised through this appeal are restricted to our client grants fund and used throughout the year, especially if a family lives in an area where there is more limited access to other support or they need an item not covered by local grant funders, recent examples of this type of support include carpets and bedding but also a man and a van to help a woman and her children leave the family home.
Looking ahead to Christmas we request that any churches who have previously supported us through Toy Services will support us instead with a monetary donation, which we can use to purchase specific items and a range of supermarket gift cards. This allows us to be flexible in the support that we give and complement, not duplicate, the excellent work of the foodbanks and other charities.