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Our Open Doors programme provides emergency small grants to individuals and families in the UK experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage. These are people who are not only living in extreme poverty, but who are also struggling with a range of other issues including severe mental health problems, homelessness, domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and substance misuse.
In the face of cuts to Council welfare provision, people facing extreme poverty and severe and multiple disadvantages often have nowhere to turn for financial assistance which can help them to face up to their problems and move on with their lives. Family Action’s Open Doors service is a lifeline.
You’ll probably want to know a bit more first…..
Grants are given only to people who are receiving professional support through programmes from Family Action or partner charities, such as domestic abuse, mental health or homelessness services. The grant is always a part of a wider package of support. Due to their financial positions, people are often unable to fully engage with the help they need to change their lives. Removing immediate barriers, threats and stress creates time and space for recipients to tackle the underlying causes of a problem. This makes it easier for families to focus on and work through the bigger issues they’re facing.
Since its launch, Open Doors has changed the lives of over 1,000 individuals and families through the provision of small cash grants of around £320. As well as the practical benefits of the grants, our evaluation has revealed that through receiving a grant, 73% of recipients report feeling in control of their lives, compared to just 14% before receiving the grant. Being given some responsibility in their life creates feelings of confidence, value and self- worth. This illustrates that a relatively small amount of money covering some of the most basic needs for recipients, coupled with appropriate support, can be transformational.
‘‘The grant helped me close a really bad chapter in my life. With the support of my worker and that grant, I have opened a new chapter. If I had one message for the funders, it would be “thank you for helping". Sadly our funding is coming to an end and we need your help to keep the service going.
Low value cash grants, coupled with appropriate support enable transformational steps for people in need. They help make a house a home – a starting point for those receiving support to be safe and secure. They also enable recipients to feel secure about themselves in terms of their ability to provide for their families and their standing in the community. On a practical level they are covering some of the most basic needs of the recipient – curtains so a mother who has fled domestic abuse can feel safe in her new home; new clothes for a young person to seek employment; home furnishings for someone moving into an unfurnished house after a period of homelessness.
Aggie was experiencing domestic abuse and mental health issues. She is in her late 60s and had to flee from her abusive husband. A refuge helped her find a safe and permanent home. As a part of the support she received, she was put forward for a small Open Doors grant.
‘I keep reminding myself that I am the victim, I have done nothing wrong. When I moved in I had just two suitcases, my clothes and bedding. I slept on a blow-up mattress on the floor. I had nothing. The grant has been a safety net, it got me lots of things you need to make a home.’
‘Without the grant, I would have been miserable. I am determined to make this place mine. I used to be scared of life, I had everything but I was scared of life. Now I know I am safe. You can have a beautiful house, with lovely things but it is what is going on inside that really matters.’
‘My worker really helps me. It is good to have an adult to talk to and she pushes me too. She is very reassuring. She knows that I want to keep my independence. Since I got the grant, I am more confident, just having some money in your purse makes you more confident.’
‘Since I have had my grant and got sorted here, I feel more assertive. I am not letting my partner sell our old home under me. The support has really helped me, it has made a big difference. Knowing that you have a little bit of money in your purse, planning things step by step, it’s allowing me to put down roots, I am not moving again.’
‘Respect is a two-way thing: no one has felt sorry for me, they have been prepared to give me a kick up the bum when I have needed it but they have also trusted me to use the money wisely. It was there when I needed it most.’
In recent weeks, there has been increasing public discussion around divisions in society and a sense that there are people who are, or are at risk of being let down and “left behind”. Please help us show that someone does care and enable Family Action to continue our vital Open Doors grants service for the most vulnerable in society.
The initial programme and its thorough evaluation has been funded by Lankelly Chase. They have given us an exceptional opportunity to perfect the grant giving process, ensuring that we have maximum possible impact. This funding is now coming to an end and we need your help to sustain this programme, as we continue to support those most in need, during a period of growing uncertainty and increased hardship.
Family Action transforms lives by providing practical, emotional and financial support to those who are experiencing poverty, disadvantage and social isolation across England.
We have been building stronger families since 1869, and today work with over 45,000 families through over 130 community-based services. Thousands more are supported with financial assistance through education and welfare grants programmes.
Our innovative services reach out to those in need, we strengthen families and communities, build skills and resilience and improve the life chances of children and adults.
Support this Open Doors Campaign and you will directly be helping someone to turn their life around at the point when they need it most.
Every £320 we raise will change a life for the better.
Our evaluation, launched earlier this year, has shown that people who receive Open Doors grants:
Are in a position which allows them to better deal with challenges in their lives. In the medium term it was reported that this should help them be more able to meet their own physical needs.
Are enabled to improve their self-esteem through experiencing “normality” in their lives.
Can gain positive memories through having something work out well for them.
Are helped towards greater independence.
Find out more www.family-action.org.uk/open-doors
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