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Nearly Half a Million in the UK Turn To Charities for Support

James Gray

Owner/Editor at Busara Ltd
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my journalism has been published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'. My photo-journalism has been represented by Agence France-Presse.
James Gray

With January intensifying the difficulties people face financially and emotionally, new research has revealed nearly half a million people turned to charities for help in just one year, with Foothold providing more than 1300 instances of support to engineers and their families across the world.

National data from the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO) shows the number of people seeking help from charities and benevolent funds because they have nowhere else to turn following an unexpected change in circumstances has risen over the last four years.

In the financial year of 2018/19, Foothold helped more than 900 people with support including almost £932,000 in financial grants, legal and career help, counselling and care and disability support.

The ACO represents more than 120 charities, including Foothold that provide financial support in the form of grants, which help thousands of people across the UK. A recent survey of members* showed more than 100,000 people applied for financial help in the last financial year. When extrapolated across its entire membership base, it is estimated ACO member charities will have supported at least 400,000 people in need. In 2015, the charities distributed more than £56million in grants. In comparison, this rose to more than £60million last year – £216million when applied to its entire membership base.

The ACO is highlighting the work done by its member charities across the UK on 22 January 2020 by sharing the stories of people whose lives were turned around thanks to the support they received.

Its campaign, One Day Changes Lives, supported by Foothold will show how an individual act of support granted by a charity one day can have a huge impact in improving someone’s life. Together, individual acts by ACO charities amount to a colossal positive impact on society.

Jane Petit, CEO at Foothold said: “no matter what the issue is we are always here to listen which sometimes can be enough in itself. And when it’s not, the financial support we can give can often make the difference between destitution and managing.

Donal Watkin, Chief Executive at ACO, said: “These figures show the increasing levels of support needed by people with nowhere else to turn. Today we’re highlighting the big difference our members make to people’s lives through financial and non-financial help, and the role charities continue to play in the UK.”

Those supported by the charities were driven into a crisis for reasons including them or a family member facing sudden illness or disability, incurring costs for unexpected household repairs or bills, being unable to pay the high costs associated with a health condition, poor mental health, being involved in an accident, family breakdown, or redundancy.

Whilst ACO members are predominantly grant-making organisations, they also provide practical assistance, employment support, befriending services, and mental health and wellbeing support. Members are seeing an increase in supporting applicants with non-financial aid, rising from 60,584 people helped in 2015 to 93,308 in 2018.

Help can include the purchasing of fridges, clothes and food, and support with the costs of childcare, healthcare and household bills. Some of the people supported needed help to buy wheelchairs, hearing aids, medical equipment and respite care. The charities also provide legal, debt and/or employment advice.

Foothold is encouraging members of the public who have ever been helped by grant-giving charities to take part today and share examples of support on social media using the hashtag #OneDayChangesLives

If you are an individual in need of support, please visit www.myfoothold.org or contact Foothold on hello@myfoothold.org and +44 020 7344 5498