Hardship Grants for individuals

Many organisations are supporting people in our communities who are struggling with debt, and money worries.

With this in mind, Cornwall VSF have collated a raft of sources of hardship grants, for individuals and families.  These have been supplied to us from sources across the sector, and in the Council, so many thanks to those individuals, for sharing their knowledge with us.

General advice

Step Change has a page of useful information to help in a crisis situation, including payment holidays, food banks, utility bills, and more.  See their website.

National portals for grant finding

Turn 2 Us (free access)

Turn 2 Us is a national charity helping people get back on track with financial support. Their website has a grants search section, as well as a benefits entitlement calculator. This is free to access, and will help a person to drill down through possible grants to which they may be entitled, by reason of previous occupations, geographical area, health condition, or other factors.

Disability Grants (free access)

The Disability Grants website lists grants for people who are disabled, and for people who are parents or carers of people who are disabled.

The website is searchable by type, eg children, families, carers, housing, etc.  Then you can check eligibility criteria, and finally, find the application details, including a list of what supporting documentation might be required.

Grants to Individuals in Need book (cost)

There is a book called ‘Grants to Individuals in Need’ which is published in paper format every year.  It costs £95 but if your organisation is regularly meeting with people who need this support, then it might be a good investment.  You can find out more about it, and purchase a copy if you need it, here.

Grant Advisor /Grant Finder website (cost)

The Grant Finder website is a professional funding solution for public sector and large organisations, costing at least £4,980 + VAT.  It has a Grant Advisor feature, basically a lower tier of membership, for community organisations, looking at EU, national and local funding streams, with a 12- month subscription costing £995 + VAT. They have given us a PDF to explain the services offered, and you can find out more on the website. Grant Advisor – An Introduction (flyer)

Support for people leaving prison (free)

The Hardman Trust publishes and distributes a practical guide known as The Hardman Directory to give prisoners and those recently released free access to accurate information on supplementary funding and other forms of financial support that may be available to them. You can order copies on paper or PDF via the Hardman Trust website.

Public Sector sources

Cornwall Council support

For items relating to home heating such as fuel bills or breakdown in heating equipment such as oil tanks or boiler repair please contact Community Energy Plus by emailing advice@cep.org.uk or phoning 0800 954 1956. 

For help with food and other essential household items visit the Cornwall Council website 

Cornwall Council Crisis and Care Awards

Cornwall Council detail two of their separate awards here.

  • Crisis Awards are for those in emergency or disaster situations to help them and their families with immediate needs.
  • Care Awards help vulnerable people to live as independently as possible in their community.

National schemes

Budgeting Loans – temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. These ca n be used to help pay for household items, and the money will be deducted from benefits being claimed.

Hardship payments may be available from your local Jobcentre Plus.

Sure Start Maternity Grant is a one-off payment of £500 towards the cost of having a child.  The mother must be expecting their first child, or a multiple birth if she has a child already, and either she or her partner must be on certain benefits.

Local funding sources

Transformation Cornwall and the Food banks

Foodbanks across Cornwall offer emergency food support to people in food crisis. For the latest version of a weekly Update on Cornish Foodbanks with details of how to access Foodbank support please see the Transformation Cornwall website.

Transformation Cornwall compile and update two weekly grants lists. One list is for foodbanks, grassroot groups and faith based social action projects in Cornwall and one list details hardship grants for individuals in need.

Cornwall Community Foundation (CCF)

CCF gives grants to organisations, but some of these grants are to fund emergency grants to individuals.  CCF has provided us with a list of the current grant-givers for hardship funds at the moment. Citizens Advice Cornwall and Treverbyn Hall hold these grants. There are many grants, mostly for very carefully defined groups, so check the criteria to see if any match.

Citizens Advice Cornwall

Citizens Advice Cornwall has a COVID 19 fund for energy top ups for those with prepaid meters , and all their offices also hold varying amounts in their pre covid CCF emergency grants, which can be allocated to clients in need.  CAC clients will be offered a full benefits check, and income maximisation appointment, to save money on utilities, and ensure that clients are getting the best deal and taking advantage of the schemes offered by the energy companies to help those who are struggling.

Treverbyn Hall

Treverbyn Hall, Stenalees, St Austell, has a hardship fund, as well as offering free takeaway lunches and a community larder, for the people of Mid Cornwall. See their leaflet –
non FB food help in treverbyn village larder

Ocean Housing

Ocean Housing has created a hardship fund to help support their tenants most affected by the current Covid 19 pandemic. The fund can be used to purchase essential items and is available to any local charity or voluntary agency which is providing valuable support services to people living within our community, and any individual Ocean tenant, shareholder or leaseholder that are experiencing severe hardship due to Covid 19.

There is an initial contact form that can be completed on Ocean’s website. Applications may also be received via phone, email, live chat or other social media. Alternatively contact one of their Customer Services advisors on 01726 874450. Any application is subject to approval by Ocean Housing

LiveWest Housing

LiveWest offers Crisis and Hardship grants to its tenants. If you are a LiveWest tenant, they will offer an initial conversation to understand your personal finances and situation and where appropriate LiveWest can either signpost to other organisations, or on a case by case basis can help and support its residents. For more information visit the LiveWest Community page.

Catholic Children’s Society (Plymouth)

Covering Devon, Cornwall and parts of Dorset, this charity runs an Essential Grants fund, which organisations can apply to on behalf of vulnerable children and their families, of all faiths, and none. The fund can cover ‘basic essentials of life’ such as children’s beds & cots, school uniform and shoes and also appliances such as cookers, washing machines and fridge/freezers. They currently do not see many applications from Cornwall!  Find out more via their leaflet. Generic CCSP leaflet – September 2019 or their website. 

Plymouth Ladies Charity Club

Offering small grants up to £500 for registered charities within the PL  postcode working with children and young people in need aged under 25. Awards are often for the benefit of individuals and families, given through the charities working with those people. For examples of previous awards made, see the charity’s website, as well as how to apply. There is also a Facebook page which is well run.

National funds for general use

Emergency Essentials Programme – BBC Children in Need

Family Fund Business Services are working in collaboration with BBC Children in Need to deliver the Emergency Essentials programme supporting children and young people living with severe poverty as well as additional pressures such as domestic violence, disability or poor health in the family.

The programme can deliver or fund critical items such as:

  • Gas or electric cookers
  • Essential household items
  • Furniture and kitchen equipment
  • Children’s beds and bedding
  • Washing machines
  • Fridges and freezers
  • Baby equipment
  • Clothing in exceptional or emergency situations.
  • NOT laptops, iPads and toys & games as this funding pot has been exhausted.

Applications must be completed by a registered referrer who is part of an organisation that is supporting the family or young person and capable of assessing their needs.

There does not seem to be a deadline, but the funding pot may be limited. See their website for details.

The National Benevolent Charity Emergency Coronavirus Fund

The NBC Fund is an emergency payment for people have lost their job or are on reduced hours and have therefore had their income substantially reduced because of Coronavirus and who are suffering hardship as a result.

The Talisman Charity

The Talisman charity assists individuals in the UK of small means who the trustees consider to be deserving and may be described as “going short”. Applications should be made on behalf of individuals by a local authority, another charitable organisation or a non-profit organisation such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.


The Glasspool Charity awards grants via organisations for the purchase of white goods, essential furniture (although these are not being prioritised at this time), and essential clothing.

British Gas Energy Trust

British Gas Energy Trust helps families and individuals struggling with gas and electricity debt, with grants to clear those debts – recipients need not be customers of British Gas. People who are helped must have sought advice from a money advice agency, and be working on a sustainable budget going forwards.

Buttle Trust

Helping launch children out of poverty, by giving grants to children who have experienced domestic abuse, of who have no family support, in order to further their education or employment. You can find out more on the Buttle UK website.

COSARAF Foundation

The COSARAF Foundation’s Hardship Grants provide small grants to individuals facing significant hardship. The foundation only accepts applications from recognised social organisations such as charities, housing associations, schools and social services acting on behalf of a family or individual in need. Grants of up to £2,000 are available for eligible individuals and families. Most grants are between £500-£1,000. If any organisations need support for clients, especially those struggling as a result of Covid-19, submit an application online. Applications are assessed every six weeks. You can find out more on the Foundation’s website.

Let’s Talk Energy Fund

To assist households with energy debt, and provide energy efficient white goods and boiler replacement/repairs. Limited to certain energy providers at certain times, and some items restricted to certain areas. See the Let’s Talk website for more information, including money management support, and benefits eligibility checker.

Specific or tailored funding organisations

Anglican Clergy and their families – The Clergy Support Trust

Care workers (including those employed at care homes in non-care roles, eg drivers) – The Care Workers Charity (CWC)

Fishing community – The Fishermen’s Mission, offering emergency support to fishermen, and their families.

Farming people – Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution AND the Addington Fund.  See this leaflet about help available to farming families: Farming Help

Homeless people – Vicar’s Relief Fund offering support via frontline workers working with people experiencing homelessness, for Basic Essential Need; Overcoming Barriers to Support; and Securing Accommodation.

Nurses and midwives Cavell Nurses Trust AND Queens Nursing Institute, for nurses who have worked in the community (i.e. Outside hospitals) for more than 3 years.

Professionals and their dependants – Elizabeth Finn Fund.  Award grants to people who hold or have formerly held occupations requiring a certain level of responsibility and education, or whose partners have done so, i.e. a degree; NVQ level 4 or above; or equivalent, and people who have had their own business or worked in the arts and can clearly evidence they have earned a living from this work.

Railway families – Railway Benefit Fund

Teachers, and support staff in schools (for at least 5 years) – The Teaching Staff Trust

Women on low incomes – Women’s Resilience Fund .Grants and support for women on low incomes who have specific needs and are struggling to make ends meet or trying to overcome financial problems.

People in the Penzance area – Via Cornwall Community Foundation, the Emily Bolitho Trust offers grants to support the wellbeing of individuals, especially those faced with hardship through poor health or low income, and for organisations that provide services to those facing hardship. Organisations must apply.

Many organisations exist for people with specific disabilities, from sight loss, multiple sclerosis, acquired head injuries and many, many more.  A person who has a specific disability may well be able to find a grant available specific to their case, but these are far too numerous to list here!