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Children's Society - Children's Society

The Coordinated Community Support programme – request for input from benevolent funds

The Children’s Society outline their plans to create a coordinated approach to emergency support provision in the UK, and how charities can get involved to help its creation.

For too many people, the opportunity for a basic, decent, socially acceptable standard of living is undermined by a financial crisis that puts their health and wellbeing at risk.  This might include such things as a need for emergency food or fuel, urgent need to replace broken white goods or furniture, or emergency travel expenses.

Until 2013, emergency financial assistance was provided through a national scheme of Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants – with around a third of a billion pounds paid out each year to help address emergency needs. From that point, the Government abolished these schemes, intending that new “Local Welfare Assistance” schemes would be established instead.  At the same time, funding that the national Government supplied for this provision was significantly reduced, and all ring-fenced funding for this has now ended.

A patchy system of emergency provision has emerged in many places and can lead to people falling through the net.  Some may be left without the food, fuel or other emergency essentials they urgently need; others may get some initial help but be left to face longer term problems alone. 

It is clear that there is an urgent need to develop a more effective approach to emergency support provision.  This should bring together the VCFS and Local Government in effective collaboration and ensure that different agencies add value to (rather than displace) the work of each other

The new Coordinated Community Support (CCS) programme is working to address these issues both by addressing gaps in the provision of emergency financial support, and ensure that when people do face a financial crisis they can also get help to prevent crisis happening again in the future.

We are really keen to collaborate with benevolent funds on this programme of work.  With statutory sources of support falling away, benevolent funds have a crucial role to play in helping those in need. However, awareness and access to these opportunities is often limited and applicants can find application processes difficult to navigate – particularly if they need to submit multiple applications to different providers.  Currently, applications for the variety of grant schemes available nationally and locally have to be done independently of each other – meaning that those supporting individuals face stark choices between offering immediate support and spending valuable time researching and applying for multiple grant-giving opportunities to meet the identified needs of clients.

One of the key strands of work for the CCS programme is to promote awareness and increase uptake of these opportunities in the pilot areas we are active (Swansea, Tower Hamlets, Norfolk & Oldham). As part of this, and following a successful application to the JP Morgan Force For Good programme, we are working on an exciting project with a team of their developers to develop and pilot a web-based app that seeks to streamline grant application processes into one single online portal. In the first instance, we are looking to pilot this programme in Oldham with a view to testing it before possible extension to other areas. 

We would love to make contact with benevolent funds to explore how this portal might be of use to you – and any other ways the CCS programme might be able to work with you.  To arrange a further discussion about the programme, please get in touch with George Dunstall, CCS Programme Manager (George.Dunstall@childrenssociety.org.uk).