More families need emergency cash
Scotland’s largest children’s charity has warned an urgent fund giving grants to Scotland’s most vulnerable families will run out of cash by the end of June if demand continues at the current level.
Since the beginning of lockdown, applications to Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund have increased by 1,385%, and in the last 12 weeks the charity has provided 1,049 urgent grants totalling £331,855.
Not only is the volume of applications increasing, but also the value of each grant has increased from an average of £100 up to an average of £300, the charity said.
Donations to the fund have increased since the pandemic was declared, with a total of £405,610 donations received since 16 March 2020, but the charity is calling on the general public and its supporters to continue to donate to ensure the fund can continue to support Scotland’s most vulnerable children.
Glasgow has received 41% of the grants, four times more than any other local authority.
Liz Nolan, deputy director at Aberlour Children’s Charity, said: “We are currently paying out an average of £28,000 per week, and applications to our Urgent Assistance Fund have dramatically increased by 1,385%. 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 the large out-of-town shops where vouchers can be redeemed. We trust families to do the best for their children.
Nolan said as an example the charity is 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. 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,” said Nolan. “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. We really don’t want to have to turn away families in such dire need.”