Chris Hancock: Launching the Crisis emergency grants fund
As Crisis officially launches an emergency grants fund for local homelessness charities today, the charity’s head of best practice Chris Hancock explains more.
The homelessness and housing sectors currently face a huge and unprecedented challenge. How do we support some of the people most at risk of coronavirus in our society to keep themselves safe? How do they find and access self-contained accommodation for people at a point where all the usual means of doing that are shut down? How do we provide the basics of food and sanitation when even those of us with a home are struggling to do that?
In both our own services and in those of organisations we have long partnered with and supported we are seeing people meeting those challenges with extraordinary commitment. Governments across Great Britain have publicly committed to bringing everybody indoors, however it is the frontline organisations, working alongside their local authorities which are stepping up to turn these ambitions into reality.
That is why we decided to set up our In This Together campaign. As part of this we are fundraising to support our services but also to deliver a grants programme which support local homelessness organisations across the UK to respond to this emergency. We have already started providing emergency grants up to £5000 to pay for things people have told us they urgently need. Services which can no longer operate from a centre are quickly turning themselves into outreach organisations, people providing their clients with the means to keep themselves safe and connected with cleaning materials and mobiles and trying to bring in the additional capacity needed to meet increased need but also fill gaps where staff and volunteers are having to distance themselves.
Through this fund, we will pay for things which we know are not the full answer to ending homelessness. We are not dropping our belief that homelessness is only ended for good for most people by providing them with a home of their own. However, this is an emergency that requires emergency solutions.
Although there are also opportunities amongst the challenges. Things we were told weren’t possible have happened: housing benefit levels are back to being linked to market rents, evictions have been suspended and governments are showing that rough sleeping can in fact be ended (even over a weekend). If we are to capitalise on this chance, we need services which make sure no-one who is now indoors needs to go back to homelessness. So, that is why we are also looking to provide larger grants, up to £50,000, to support the more substantial changes needed so that the help that is started through an emergency can turn into something permanent.
I feel extremely fortunate to work for an organisation that is prepared to use our national profile to raise funds for others. My role at Crisis has always involved trying to support local organisations to do what they are best at and never has that felt more necessary than now.
To find out more about the grants fund and to apply for funding please download the relevant application form here:
- Read all of our articles relating to COVID-19 here.