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The one thing the team want you to know

Families with disabled children are much more likely to struggle to heat their homes and cut back on food this winter. Research from the Resolution Foundation found people with disabilities had an available amount to spend that was about 44% lower than that of other working-age adults. There are sources of funding out there that can help; but often they are complex and very long. Consequently some of our most vulnerable families with the highest level of need are not getting the financial help. We would be able to target help in completing these applications with high levels of success

Project description

We created a free resource assisting families in identifying possible extra funding (grants for Equipment, Essential items, Educational aids, Day trips or short breaks) to help with the extra costs associated with having a disabled child. In addition to being free to download for any family via our website (https://www.friendsandfamilies.org.uk/s/Grants-and-Funding-Booklet.pdf). We have also distributed it as a booklet to every secondary and special school in the city. As a result we are now receiving requests every day from families asking for help with making applications either for specific grants or with help with DLA and PIP’s. We want to set aside 1 day a week of staff time for our workers (paid and volunteer) to sit alongside each family to help them secure the extra money needed. Our success to date with applications is 95%. On average this has meant that every successful application has secured over £1,000 for each child. With this grant we would be able to support 50 families with their applications which will generate a total of £45,000 of extra money for these families across the year.
In practice this will mean meeting with each parent at least twice but to a maximum of 4 times. Each application takes on average 4 hours to complete. We will meet them either in their home, in our city centre location or on-line. This first part of the process is most important to ensure that transport, or child care issues are not a barrier to participation. We also support the emotional part of the process as for many the questions being asked are very personal and challenging as it reminds the parent of the challenges their child faces as a result of their disability. This can be very distressing, so we ensure that all of our team are sensitive to this reality in their approach. We support all application through to submission, and will also support appeals if unsuccessful, with high levels of success for those who go to appeal.
We have also recognised that those families living with a disability that are also living in areas of highest economic deprivation are further disadvantaged by either being a sole carer and or unable to work though their caring responsibilities. As a result we will be targeting those communities sitting with the highest score of multiple deprivation as Ernesettle, Devonport, Mount Wise) especially their primary schools and child care settings

Funding needed £4750

What group or groups of people will the project be working with and why?

We will be working with families where at least one of their children has a disability or impairment. We work with them because they are often isolated and exposed to a range of challenges where the solutions are often complex and in many cases costly.

We have ongoing going contact with about 1000 families who live in and around Plymouth. Some have children with profound, complex and life limiting conditions. Others have children with physical or learning disabilities. We have families where their needs are around sensory impairments and we have others whose children are neurodivergent (such as Autism) or with mental health difficulties. We also have significant numbers of families where they as yet have no clear diagnosis but are really struggling in one way or another. We work with all of the above!

Many can only work very part time or not at all due to their caring responsibilities, and as a result will already have limited money coming into the family. The costs associated with some of the children as a result of their disability are sometimes massive. But for many there is no obvious access to the extra money needed to balance the household budget; so as a result the parent will often go without food for themselves in order to cover the extra costs of heat or electrical equipment needed for their child.

Sometimes there is help there from the State via DLA (Disability Living Allowance), or PIP (Person Independence Plans); but they are very long and complex and emotionally daunting. Research has shown that those that are most likely to get a yes are often the least likely to apply because the process and systems used are seen as impenetrable! Also a disproportionately large number will also be living in the poorest part of our city. It will be this group of families that we will be especially targeting.

We have also made it our priority to also search out (via our free booklet) a range of other non-government sources (Charities and Trusts) which will award money to individual families when they need something specific (Grants for Equipment; Essential items; Educational aids; Day trips, short breaks or respite; and wish making grants). What we know from our conversations with our families is that although the priority always has to go on needs (food, rent, heat) just having some money for a trip or activity for your child feels as important for the child – especially when the access to anything fun is massively restricted if you are living with a disability!

What areas will the project be working in?2-3 neighbourhoods

Ernesettle, Devonport, Mount Wise,

What is the group or organisations track record? Track record:
Been delivering for many years

How new is the idea? Experimentation:
Been delivering for years


Salaries & peoples time 80%

Project costs 10%

Event/hire/rent 5%

IT spend 0%

Core costs 0%

Capital 5%

Organisations involved

Friends and Families, PPCV (Plymouth Parent Carer Voice), PIAS (Plymouth Information Advice and Support for SEND)

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