Tough times see almost half a million turn to ACO member charities in a year

The number of people seeking help from charities and benevolent funds because they have nowhere else to turn after an unexpected change in circumstances has risen to almost half a million a year in the past four years, according to data from the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO).
The ACO represents more than 120 charities that provide financial support in the form of grants. A recent member survey that showed more than 100,000 people applied for financial help in the last financial year. When extrapolated across its entire membership base, ACO estimates that its member charities will have supported at least 400,000 people in need.
In 2015, the participating charities distributed more than £56million in grants, rising to more than £60million last year. Applied to its entire membership base the ACO puts this at around £216million.
Today, (22 January) the ACO is highlighting the work done by its member charities across the UK by sharing the stories of people whose lives were turned around thanks to the support they received.

Its campaign, One Day Changes Lives, will show how an individual act of support granted by a charity one day can have a huge impact in improving someone’s life.
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.”

Those supported by the charities were driven into a crisis for reasons including them or a family member facing sudden illness or disability, incurring costs 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, or redundancy.
ACO members are predominantly grant-making organisations but also provide practical assistance, employment support, befriending services, and mental health and wellbeing support. Members are seeing an increase in supporting applicants with non-financial aid, rising from 60,584 people helped in 2015 to 93,308 in 2018.
Help can include the purchasing of fridges, clothes and food, and support with the costs of childcare, healthcare and household bills. Some of the people supported needed help to buy wheelchairs, hearing aids, medical equipment and respite care. The charities also provide legal, debt and/or employment advice.
One of those helped is Emily (pictured), who began working as a pharmacist four years ago, until a severe health relapse made finding paid work prohibitive. Covering basic living costs were becoming overwhelming and Emily was finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Finally, she contacted Pharmacist Support:

“Thanks to Pharmacist Support I have received three forms of help, by paying my General Pharmaceutical Council fee for a year, a referral to a benefits adviser to support me in getting the benefits I am entitled to, as well as help with living costs to tide me over while I reapply for them. I was successful in my reapplication for benefits, so I’ll now be able to manage.”

ACO is encouraging members of the public who have ever been helped by grant-giving charities to take part today and share examples of support on social media using the hashtag #OneDayChangesLives. Individuals in need of support are invited to visit ACO member Turn2us’s website, or call 0808 802 2000.