Urgent appeal for Aberlour’s assistance fund

A fund which provides grants to Scotland’s most vulnerable families will run out of cash by the end of June – if demand continues at the current level.

By Julie Currie
Saturday, 20th June 2020, 7:30 am
Appeal...for people who can afford it to support the Urgent Assistance Fund, administered by Aberlour to help families the length and breadth of Scotland.
Appeal...for people who can afford it to support the Urgent Assistance Fund, administered by Aberlour to help families the length and breadth of Scotland.

The Urgent Assistance Fund is administered by Aberlour Children’s Charity.

In the last 12 weeks the charity has provided 1049 grants totalling £331,855.

Since the beginning of lockdown, applications have increased by 1385 per cent.

Due to demand, the fund will run out by the end of June - without a further cash injection.

The value of each grant has also increased from an average of £100 to £300.

Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund makes cash payments to families who are struggling, helping them pay for a range of basic needs.

Many families were already at breaking point prior to lockdown but their finances have been further impacted by the coronavirus, pushing them to crisis point.

And the charity fears that many more will struggle in the weeks and months ahead to feed their families or keep the lights on, pay for fuel or replace essential white goods when they break down.

Parents who have never before needed help to look after their children have been left in dire straits due to coronavirus.

Since the start of lockdown, grants have helped 1007 families – directly supporting 2245 children across Scotland.

Single parent families have been hit hardest, with 71 per cent of grants issued to single parent homes.

Applications have been received from every local authority in Scotland, with the exception of the Western Isles.

But Glasgow has received the lion’s share with 41 per cent of grants – four times more than any other local authority area.

It's not easy to make ends meet and put food on the table when you lose your livelihood, a plight now facing many parents.

Luckily, donations to the Urgent Assistance Fund have also increased since the pandemic was declared.

Some £405,610 has been received since March 16.

However, the charity is now asking the public and its supporters to continue to donate, if they can afford to, to ensure the fund can continue to support the country’s most vulnerable children.

Liz Nolan, deputy director at Aberlour Children’s Charity, said: “We are currently paying out an average of £28,000 per week.

“Applications to our Urgent Assistance Fund have dramatically increased by 1385 per cent.

“At this rate, the fund will be completely drained by the end of June.

“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 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.

“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, a second electric heater and a cash grant to spend on food and other essentials.

“We really don’t want to have to turn away families in such dire need.

“Every single penny donated to the Aberlour Urgent Assistance Fund is paid out to families in desperate need so I would urge anybody who can afford it to please donate.”

You can donate to Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund at www.aberlour.org.uk/donate/UAF.

If you need help, you can apply to receive funding from the assistance fund. To qualify, there must be a child in the family who is 21 or under who is suffering extreme hardship.

However, you will need a health professional, social worker, teacher, third sector organisation, clergy or other professional to support your application.

To apply, download an application form at www.aberlour.org.uk/service-category/urgent-assistance-fund and email the completed document to [email protected]

Helping our hidden children

Aberlour is the largest solely Scottish children’s charity, helping to improve the lives of Scotland’s vulnerable children.

Not all children are born with an equal chance. Aberlour is there for Scotland’s hidden children, when others let them down – because every child deserves a chance to flourish.

The charity’s mission is to reach vulnerable children as early as possible to stop damage being done, before families reach crisis point and it’s too late to help them.

Taking action quickly significantly improves long-term outcomes for children and young people.

Aberlour provides a wide range of services including:

Residential care and fostering: providing safe, loving homes for children who have experienced trauma and abuse;

Early years support: giving babies a brighter future by building confidence in parents;

Disability: making life easier for families whose child has a disability;

Recovery: helping parents on the road to recovery from drug and alcohol misuse, poor mental health and domestic abuse so their children can thrive.

While the coronavirus has had a major impact on services, Aberlour’s staff are busy in communities across Scotland, providing as seamless a service as possible to families.

For more information, visit www.aberlour.org.uk.