The first few months of the year are always a time associated with financial and wellbeing struggles post-Christmas. However, this year these challenges have only been accentuated due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.
However, benevolent funds (charities that give grants and provide support to individuals and their families) have been there for the communities they serve during these difficult months to help those finding things harder during the colder months.
Here are several ways that these charities have been helping people cope during this difficult time of year.
While benevolent charities offer financial support to people under many different circumstances, the majority offer winter fuel grants to help individuals and families struggling with their bills during the winter period.
For example, PRS Members’ Fund (who support musicians) runs a Winter Heating Scheme each year to support older people and retired musicians meet the cost of heating their homes where they face financial hardship and cannot afford their heating bills due to long-term illness and increasing fuel costs.
Benevolent charities can also offer food vouchers or grants towards shopping bills for those struggling to put food on the table for their families.
As an example, travel industry charity ABTA LifeLine offered travel staff struggling to afford Christmas costs the opportunity to apply for food vouchers at their local supermarket to buy a Christmas dinner for their families.
The winter, and particularly the festive period, can be lonely for some people, especially older people and those who have lost loved ones.
Many benevolent charities help combat loneliness and keep their communities connected through offering befriending services, coffee mornings and meet-up groups, or online communities where it has been difficult for people to meet in-person.
The Royal British Legion ran their Together at Christmas community initiative to help combat social isolation. This included offering a Telephone Buddy scheme and 24-hour support line for veterans experiencing loneliness, highlighting their bereavement support and encouraging virtual get-togethers to make Christmas puddings whilst remembering those who might be spending the holidays alone.
It’s no secret that money worries are often at the top of our minds in January.
For those with concerns about their personal finances, many benevolent charities either offer debt advice themselves or can refer you to someone that will be able to help.
Foothold, the IET’s charity supporting engineers, have partnered with debt advice charity StepChange to offer financial advice and support to those in their industry whose personal finances have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, or have been struggling to cope due to job loss or redundancy.
The colder weather and darker days (combined with financial worries) can make the winter months more difficult for many. However, many benevolent charities offer free mental health and wellbeing services to those that may be struggling more during the winter.
To coincide with Time to Talk Day on 3rd February LionHeart, the charity for RICS professionals, is running a series of webinars to highlight the different mental health and wellbeing services they offer to their community – from counselling services and talking therapies to running a free Introduction to Mental Health Awareness webinar.
Benevolent charities have also done lots to support their local communities during the winter months.
As well as offering grants to individuals, the Masonic Charitable Foundation gives grants to organisations, and before Christmas supported in giving grants totaling £343,000 to local food banks to help feed 65,000 people over Christmas as foodbanks saw a surge in demand due to the pandemic, supply chain problems and rising bills.
To find a charity that may be able to support you this winter, visit the Turn2us Grants Search and fill out a few details about yourself to view a list of charities who you may be able to apply for support from.