What sort of help can you get?

There are many charities that offer different types of support if you can’t get help elsewhere.

You may be able to get:

  • a small one-off payment or voucher for things such as food or clothes
  • larger amounts for household goods, such as a washing machine or cooker
  • a one-off grant to cover an emergency or unplanned expense
  • a grant towards a holiday or respite care
  • disability equipment or aids
  • help towards housing maintenance, repairs or removal costs
  • help with travel costs.

Charities won’t usually pay for luxury items, foreign holidays, legal fees or debt. And they won’t help with items or services that your council, the NHS or a government scheme should provide.

Finding a charity

Most charities support people in financial need who have something in common, such as:

  • a profession, trade, industry or job
  • religion or faith
  • membership of a society, club or trade union
  • a medical condition, illness or disability
  • living in or coming from a specific geographical area.

Many charities will also help the dependents of the people they support, such as partners or children.

The charity Turn2us has an online grants search tool to help you find grants or other types of support.

Our factsheet Extra help with essential costs if you're on a low income has more information about how to find a charity.

Before you apply

Most charities will only help you if you’re already getting all the benefits and other help you're entitled to. Before you apply for a grant from a charity:

If you need advice about what you could be claiming, call our Helpline on 0800 319 6789 and arrange to speak to an adviser.

How to apply

Each charity will have its own application process. You may have to fill in an application form or write a personal letter. The charity may ask for evidence that you’ve been turned down for other funding or support.

In some cases, you may have to apply through an intermediary. This could be your GP, a social worker, an advice worker or an organisation. The charity will tell you if you need to do this.

Some charities have case workers or welfare officers who can help you to apply. You can also get help through organisations such as Turn2us or Citizens Advice.

Food banks

Food banks provide emergency boxes of food to people in need. They may also offer other items, such as toilet paper, soap and pet food. Some food banks run advice sessions and may provide hot meals as well.

How to get help

To get help from a food bank, you’ll need a voucher or a letter from a professional, such as your GP, or an organisation such as Citizens Advice. Ask your local food bank where you can get a voucher.

Your council or the charity Trussell Trust can help you find a local food bank. You could also use the Independent Food Aid Network map.

Next steps

Read our factsheet Extra help with essential costs if you’re on a low income for more information about grants from charities and other support.

To find your local Citizens Advice, go to citizensadvice.org.uk or cas.org.uk in Scotland.

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