The Vicar’s Relief Fund is part of the BBC Radio 4 St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal and makes small crisis grants to people in need across the United Kingdom.
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What we do
Our primary aim is to support people who are at risk of being made homeless, are homeless or vulnerable, or have experience of being homeless and are trying to establish or maintain a tenancy. Where arrears have happened that may put someone at risk of becoming homeless, a grant from the VRF cay remove the threat of eviction. Where someone who is in temporary accommodation needs help putting together a deposit for a more permanent home, a VRF grant can help that happen. The VRF also makes grants for items such as beds, furniture and other household items, household appliances such as cookers and fridges. Some grant recipients who are homeless and destitute require clothing and ordinary living expenses, and the VRF also makes grants for these.
The average grant is around £200, but we recognise that people who are in need are in need now, so perhaps even more important than the money is the speed with which we are able to respond: on average over the past 12 months, the VRF has been able to make grants within 2 days of receiving a request. Our hope is that the making of a small grant quickly will have a positive impact and help alleviate distress or avert a crisis.
Making an application
Applications are accepted from professional support workers and CAB advisors on behalf of their service users. We do not accept direct applications from individuals, nor can we send application forms to anyone other than support workers. This is why the application form is not available online.
Although the VRF is essentially a church fund, the grants we make are intended for the whole community of need. There are no eligibility requirements on the basis of gender, age, origin, status, ethnic group, or faith.
The VRF receives about 300 applications each month. In order to ensure that funds are available for crisis needs throughout the year, we have a duty to budget our grant making; this means that sometimes requests for grants have to be refused, even if they meet our criteria. The VRF is able to make grants to around 2 out of every 3 applications we receive. We work to ensure that grants are awarded according to priority and as equitably as possible across the country.
As a crisis fund, we expect applications to the VRF to be a last resort. We want to avoid situations where we make a grant quickly but the money is not used immediately, so please don’t apply to us first simply because we are normally able to act quickly. Where support workers have been able to demonstrate that they have received or been promised funds from other sources, we have usually been sympathetic to requests to make a grant as part of a package.
To request a copy of our guidelines and application form, contact the St Martin-in-the-Fields Charities Department:
phone: 020 7766 1125/7
fax: 020 7389 0773