Aberlour Children’s Charity has seen a dramatic increase in demand and warns that its grant fund for vulnerable families could run out this month.
The charity issued an urgent appeal for support yesterday, saying that applications to its Urgent Assistance Fund have increased by 1,385% and it is paying out £28,000 per week.
In the last 12 weeks it has provided 1,049 urgent grants totalling £331,855. The average value of each grant has also increased from £100 to £300.
Aberlour is the largest children’s charity in Scotland and said it has seen applications for support from all but one local authority.
Its Urgent Assistance Fund makes cash grants to families struggling to pay for essentials. It says that since the coronavirus crisis began families have been pushed to breaking point.
If demand continues at this pace it says it will run out of money in its Urgent Assistance Fund by the end of June.
‘We don’t want to turn away families in need’
Liz Nolan, deputy director at Aberlour Children’s Charity, said: “We’ve received applications from people who have never needed our support before, from families who have lost their jobs, have children to feed and are having to wait weeks to access Universal Credit.
“We are providing cash, rather than vouchers, direct to families as a means to support themselves. Most families do not have the means to travel to the large out-of-town shops where vouchers can be redeemed. We trust families to do the best for their children.
“To give an example, we are working with a family who had been struggling financially for some time, and when the mother lost her job in March, she faced a five-week wait to access Universal Credit, meanwhile there was no money. Just a week later the gas supply was cut off as they were behind on payments, leaving them with no central heating and only one electric heater between the whole family, including their two-year-old who suffered from bronchitis. Their only access to hot water was the kettle, making it difficult to heat a bath, and when the family washing machine broke down it was the last straw. Thanks to the Urgent Assistance Fund this family has a new washing machine and second electric heater, and a cash grant to spend on food and other essentials.”
Since the start of the pandemic donations to the Urgent Assistance Fund have increased, with a total of £405,610 donations received since 16 March.
Nolan added: “We really don’t want to have to turn away families in such dire need.”