The number of people seeking help from charities following an unexpected change in circumstances has risen over the last four years, according to research from the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO).
ACO, which represents more than 120 charities that provide financial support in the form of grants, believes that nearly half a million people turned to charities for help in the last financial year.
Around a quarter of ACO members responded to a survey, which found more than 100,000 people applied for financial help in the last financial year. When extrapolated across the ACO's membership base, it is estimated at least 400,000 people applied for financial help.
In 2015, the charities collectively distributed more than £56m in grants, a figure which rose to more than £60m last year.
Increase in supporting applicants with non-financial aid
The umbrella body found that its members are also seeing an increase in supporting applicants requiring other types of support.
In 2015, 60,584 people received non-financial aid, a figure which increased to 93,308 in 2018.
Those seeking help from the charities faced hardship for reasons including sudden illness or disability to them our a family member, costs incurred 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, and redundancy.
One suggested explanation for an increase in applicants asking for non-financial aid is that people are better equipped to ask for help, due to enhanced discussion around mental wellbeing.
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.
“Some of the people helped never expected to face tough times. Perhaps they’ve been made redundant and their savings have run out as they’ve struggled to find employment. Perhaps they’re receiving cancer treatment and are off work with no pay while the bills keep coming in and mount up. On a single day, our members help hundreds of people across the country, and collectively they have a real societal impact.”
ACO is asking members of the public who have been helped by grant-giving charities to share examples of support on social media using the hashtag #OneDayChangesLives.