One thing that stood out to our teams in the last year is the range of challenges different families face. By introducing our Families in Crisis Fund we have been able to allocate funds at our discretion, working closely with families who desperately need immediate and practical support
Over the Christmas period, our supporters and individual parish churches raised over £4000 for our Families In Crisis Appeal and Reigate and Banstead Council awarded us a grant of £2000 to help families in East Surrey. This fund allowed us to supplement the support of local grant-making trusts with whom our staff works regularly to support families. However, each of the grant-making trusts has individual criteria or a defined area of benefit and by raising our own funds we have been able to respond flexibly to fill the funding gaps and target support to the greatest effect. We can also respond very quickly getting help within hours if necessary. Below are just a few examples
During 2020 we extended our food voucher scheme to include a wider range of shops and a higher value per voucher, giving families a chance to go to the nearest supermarket to shop for themselves.
“Instead of coming away with a bag of tinned foods, families can stock up on the things they need at that moment,” says one of our workers in East Surrey. “Fresh fruit and vegetables, sanitary products, or even cleaning supplies – every family is different and has different needs.”
Since introducing the supermarket voucher scheme, we have again expanded the range of shops, which makes a big difference to the people using this service. Rather than having to go to their nearest big supermarket, which may be a bus or train ride away, families can now choose to shop at their nearest co-op or Tesco metro, making it much easier to get the necessities.
We helped one family by providing a printer. Faced with homeschooling, and not wanting her children to fall behind, one mum had been getting up an hour earlier to copy out the day’s worksheets.
Another family had two children who were getting backache due to unsuitable sleeping arrangements. In that case, we provided two new single mattresses, to ensure they could finally get a good night’s sleep.
“One family had moved house and had no storage so desperately needed a wardrobe, another a dehumidifier for a damp house… we’ve really had to take it on a case by case basis, and assess the needs in order to meet them.”
Below, Susie Burnard from our East Surrey team addresses the congregation of St John’s, Hurst Green in December 2020, highlighting the importance of our Families in Crisis appeal. This video includes a case study (starting at 13m50s) of a family we had helped with household essentials during the festive period in the past.
The case study of Sam and his family really highlights how what each family needs is different. It wasn’t the toys that made Christmas for Sam and his daughters, but the new carpet they had to sit on. St John’s Hurst Green gave generously following this appearance, and in lieu of the regular toy donations we receive around Christmas time, the church and its members raised over £1000 towards our Families in Crisis fund.