The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that it will maintain its £27.3 million annual funding for Family Fund, the UK’s largest charity providing grants for low-income families raising disabled or seriously ill children, for three years from 2017-18.
The commitment, worth £81.9 million in total, ensures that tens of thousands of families in England will be able to rely on the extra support Family Fund provides until 2020. Family Fund supported 58,621 families in England with grants for essential items in 2015-16, an increase of almost 12,000 in the last five years. They expect to have helped a similar number by the end of 2016-17.
Families can apply for grants for items that will ease the day-to-day pressures that many families face raising a disabled child or young person, such as kitchen appliances, clothing, bedding, sensory toys, tablets and computers, and family breaks.
Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families Edward Timpson MP, who met last week with families who had received support from Family Fund, said:
No child, regardless of the obstacles they face, should miss out on vital life experiences. I’m delighted to confirm that we will be giving Family Fund £81.9 million over the next three years, in recognition of the life-changing support it gives to families.
This important work was brought to life thanks to the heartfelt stories of the parents and young people who took part in our meeting. I hope this announcement gives Family Fund the confidence to continue their work to help thousands of families across the country.
Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive of Family Fund, said:
This significant commitment from the DfE will make an incredible difference to the families we support and we are thrilled. Our grants provide practical and essential support and help improve the quality of life and ease some of the additional daily pressures faced by many families.
‘The security of three years’ funding allows Family Fund to plan ahead to deliver our grants and services with confidence and, most importantly, will mean a reliable source of support for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people across England. We will work hard to ensure this funding supports as many families as possible.
How a Family Fund grant can help: Conor and Rayden’s story
Connor is eight and his little brother Rayden is four. Connor and Rayden have DiGeorge syndrome, a genetic disorder, and have spent a lot of time in and out of hospital. Recently, their family was awarded a family break to Butlins, which, after a tough year for the family, gave Connor and Rayden a Christmas adventure to remember.
‘This last year or so has been exceptionally hard,’ said mum Rebecca. ‘Not only because of our unique set of circumstances but due to the death of my mother, who was very close to me, my husband and our children. Being a young special needs mum of two, it took a lot of adjustment. Connor is eight and is still struggling not only to come to terms with it, but to understand it.
‘I knew we all needed to get away, but we couldn’t really afford it. Earlier this year, I applied to Family Fund for a Butlins break, and I was moved to tears when we were awarded. We rang Butlins to book, and I decided a Christmas break would be perfect to get us away at the time when we needed it the most.
‘Butlins were great, we were given vouchers to use on the resort which was really kind. We included full board so had absolutely no cooking to do. What a treat! The premier food court was amazing for my tube-fed son, he had a taste or a lick of so many items and tried a few bits, which was a big moment. All the staff were really helpful and made us feel so welcome.
‘I can’t even put into words what this has meant to all of us, to have a breather and a rest. I want to thank Family Fund and Butlins from the bottom of my heart for giving me and my family time away from everything we face at home, to have fun, to see the boys smiling and laughing, and at times even forget that we are different to anyone else. I haven’t seen excitement like that on either of their faces in some months. That was the perfect Christmas gift to me.’