Member Spotlight: The Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust

Read all about one of ACO’s charity members on how they support children of families that work within the fashion and textiles industry.

Tell us a bit about your charity’s history

The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust is a unique organisation which provides financial support for the children of people who work in the British Fashion and Textile Industry. Having just entered our 170th year, we have a great heritage which includes Royal Patronage and the famous author Charles Dickens who as one of our first Trustees.

Why fashion and textiles? We were founded in 1853, when a group of textile workers came together to support the children and widow of a former colleague. The trust grew to support more children. As the British fashion and textile industry has changed over time, we’ve evolved alongside it; we now support children whose parents work in a wide range of related businesses, including clothes shops, supermarkets, launderettes and soft furnishing brands.

Who do you support and what support do you offer?

We offer grants to support the wellbeing needs of children aged 0- 18 years. Our grants can be used for a wide variety of essential items, including children’s clothing, school uniform, household appliances or specialist mobility equipment and therapies to support a child’s health needs.

What makes you unique?

Our support is woven into the very fabric of the industry. From catwalk to curtains, from the boardroom to the shop floor, we’re here for every parent who finds themselves unable to afford essential items like clothes, bedroom furniture or study equipment.

Financial difficulties can hit anyone, at any time. An unexpected change in circumstances can suddenly make it impossible to provide the things that children really need.

Can you give an example of someone you have helped?

This is the situation Emma faced when her home was flooded and her son’s beds were broken. It got so bad that Tyler and Theo had started to complain about not sleeping. But between repairing the house and keeping bills paid, Emma couldn’t afford new beds too.

She heard about us through her work at a laundry company and applied for a grant. Now the boys have new bunk beds and are sleeping soundly again.

Emma commented, ““When you’re in a manager role, people think you’re earning lots, and they expect you to be able to afford this stuff on your own. So at first I felt guilty about applying. But I thought to myself, ‘everything I do is for those boys. It’s not about my pride. The kids don’t care about pride, they just want somewhere to sleep.”

When the beds arrived, Emma filmed their surprise and delight. You can watch this brilliant video on our website.

Has your charity had to adapt in light of the recent cost of living crisis, if so how?

Following the turmoil of the pandemic and increased pressure on households from rising food and energy prices, demand for our services is higher than ever. Applications for our grants reached an unprecedented high last month and we are working hard to reach all the families who need help.

What is your charity working on now?  

We have just launched our new CRM system, which has brought our whole application process online. This has been a big project for our small team of six staff, so we are all focused on learning the new system and exploring how it can help us reach more families. We have also just recruited our first ever Fundraising Officer. This is a brand new role which  will support our ambitious fundraising strategy over the coming years.

What issues are most of concern to you at the moment?

As we have seen in the past few months, demand for our grants can quickly outstrip our available resources. Over the coming months we will continue to evolve the ways we balance demand and try to enlist more financial support from the industry to meet the needs of our sector.