HELPING PEOPLE WITH CRISIS FUNDS
There are lots of ways that you can offer help if you know people who are struggling financially.
As well as offering resources to help people access benefits, there are various ways to get funds or resources to people who have essential need, for example for gas meters, food, or technology to get them online. Here are a few:
Acts 435 is an online giving charity, directly connecting those who want to give with those who are in genuine need of their help, through a network of local churches and charities.
Turn 2 Us Grant Finder
Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.
Grants can be sourced via their online search tool, an extensive database of grants that can go directly to individuals in need.
Wavelength- Providing technology for the lonely
WaveLength gives radios, televisions, and tablet computers, free of charge, to people who are lonely and can’t afford to buy the technology themselves.
London Catalyst, an independent grant funder offer “Samaritan Grants” to churches and smal charities within the M25, so that they can offer small amounts of money directly to those in hardship.
Contact London Catalyst to apply - applications are being turned around as quickly as they can during Covid-19
As well as these specific grants, it is worth checking with your council, who also may hold details of local grant funds that could be available to those you know in need
Financial Problems / Income Shock
The Coronavirus has plunged so many previously “financially stable” people into money crisis: loss of jobs, businesses, income, worry about paying bills. Those who were already on low income with little financial resilience are in even worse a position.
Given that 4 in 10 of us have less than £100 in savings, many of us are either in this situation, or are supporting people in our parishes, communities, or friendship groups who are. And worry about money is very real, particualrly when this situation has come out the blue, with not time for planning or saving.
We have produced a number of resources to support churches as they respond:
1) A downloadable PDF summarising the help that is available for people financially, split into 4 areas:
- Financial Shock- what to do if someone’s income has been cut,
- Financial Future- how to plan & make changes when your income changes
- Financial Help- where to get specific help if you’re struggling with bills
- Financial Worry- helping the anxiety and stress that come when we are struggling to make ends meet
2) A short video: a conversation between the Bishop of Stepney, +Joanne Grenfell & Capital Mass’s Alison Tsang about where we can start if we have people in our communities who are struggling with money.
3) Online training: For the last 6 weeks we’ve been running very popular 2 hour webinars to support churches as they help their communities around money. Going forward, now we’re moving out of initial phase, these “crisis” webinars have now finished.
However the Just Finance Foundation’s new “Covid Cash” course, based on these webinars, is now running and we’d thoroughly recommend anyone to go on this training.
It’s a FREE 2.5 hour train-the-trainer session, with attached resources that churches can then use to run their own webinars, or use one to one with people. They’ve also provided a phone script so you can deliver the material to those who don’t have internet access.
For more information about Covid Cash Course, and the next dates for training, please check here
APPLYING FOR BENEFITS
Many people will now be having to access Universal Credit for the first time.
There are resources on our website to help you if you are wanting to support someone through the processhere
Wherever possible, even after the most recent lockdown, foodbanks in London are staying open.
The Trussell Trust have put out their latest support letter for churches, below
food banks can legally continue operating and buildings that host food banks can continue to open for those sessions, provided we follow social distancing rules, because your work qualifies you as key workers ‘caring for the vulnerable’. We have provided all food banks in our network with a letter for workers, to explain their role so it is clear why they’re leaving the house. However each foodbank will need to assess it’s own situation as to whether it can continue.
The Diocesan guidance on foodbanks is here
“Can my church continue to run its food bank?” We are encouraging church people to do everything they can to support food banks and they do not need to close. Handwashing facilities and hand sanitizer should be provided for volunteers and food bank users and particular care given to cleaning any contact surfaces (doors and door handles, counters, toilet facilities). Ask people to maintain physical distance of at least 2 metres.
The general need for foodbanks, across the Diocese is:
- food donations - each provides a list of what they particularly need
- healthy volunteers who are not in the “at risk” category
- drivers with vehicles to do deliveries
Do please check with your local foodbank to find out whether they are open, as the situtaion is rapidly developing.
A comprehensive list of foodbanks across the Diocese is below, which includes contact details, and when/where they are accepting food donations (correct as of 01/05/20)
The Government has put out guidance on how to safely volunteer during the lockdown here
Please adhere to these guidelines in all you are doing to serve your communities!
Many Christians and churches are involved in thier local “Mutual Aid” groups- set up across neighbourhoods to meet each other’s needs.
A list of these Covid-19 Mutual Aid Groups operating in London is here
The Diocese of London has released guidance on the provision of homelessness support, following on from the instruction to close all places of worship. It can be found here
Can my church continue to run its soup kitchen or equivalent? It can, but we recommend that volunteers maintain strict social distancing and that clients are asked to queue outside and come in one by one to receive a pre-packed meal/food parcel to take away.
Our church runs a drop in centre for homeless people. How do we manage the current situation? The latest government advice can be found here. Churches may remain open to offer this kind of provision and should follow any updates to government advice. Your insurance company should also be kept updated.
Groundswell have produced Coronavirus advice and planning for people experiencing homelessness here
Homeless Link have put together more information and resources on who is doing what to support those who find themselves street homeless during the outbreak, here
Housing Justice, who co-ordinate and support many of the church run night shelter circuits guidance and information is here
Many church run night shelter circuits will be responding locally; contact them for more details about how to help.
It is not suprising that this crisis has caused many people a great deal of fear and anxiety and a deal of grief. Many people who have underlying mental health issues may be really struggling; for others the stress of this situation may be the cause of mental health issues.
The Church of England have produced a useful guide here
Together Network’s Guide - Looking after your Wellbeing here
National charities are providing resources to help with your mental health at this time:
Supporting the Isolated and Vulnerable
We know that most churches within their congregations those who are isolated and vulnerable. And all churches are placed within communities that definitely have them; and as the virus strikes and people need to self isolate, they themselves become vulnerable.
The Diocese have issued some guidance on how we might care for people here
We are encouraging churches to find creative ways of staying in touch with those who are isolated and vulnerable and to give them spiritual support and also practical support as far as possible. We have published a list of digital and print resources and we are also developing new content
Please also follow government guidelines at this time- which do include permission to go out in order to help and support the vulnerable (eg food drops) while maintaining a 2m distance from anyone else. For more details on government instructions while in lockdown, click here
Grants and Funding
Below are a few possible sources of funding for churches and small community groups seeking to respond to the issues that the Coronavirus shutdown has caused. Please note that these funds often open and close quite quickly.
Our colleagues at the Parish Fundraising Team have huge expertise in pointing you to sources of funding, and you can get in touch with them here
London’s funders are working together to provide coordinated funding to support groups responding to the needs of communities affected by the covid-19 pandemic.
Church Grants is a database of funders who all provide funding to church and Christian organisations, and the London Diocese has a paid subscription meaning you can access with your parish code
In addition, a brilliant list of 100+ sources of Emergency charity funds is listed here