One thing many parents and carers know is that money can be tight when you are a carer; whether that is because your caring responsibilities mean you cannot work as much as you would like to, or because there are extra living costs associated with your child’s disability.
Claiming the right benefits to make sure your family has enough money to get by day-to-day is really important. But did you know that there are also one-off grants available to either help you meet the extra costs of caring for a disabled person, like specialised equipment, or to help out with costs like therapies and family holidays, to help you all achieve a better quality of life?
Spending hours researching what is available, what you are entitled to and how to apply is not something many of us have the luxury of doing, and it can be a really daunting task. Here, we have done some of the work for you and listed some of the places you can go to to find out what you may be entitled to, as well as some of the main organisations locally and nationally that provide financial help for parents and carers of autistic children.
This list is not exhaustive, but gives you an idea of what help is out there. Please bear in mind as well that many of the organisations are charities relying on donations, and may sometimes have to turn your application down due to lack of funds.
Where to find information
Turn2Us is a free service that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help online, by phone and face to face. The website features a free and easy to use grants search. The search will also help you find out if there are any smaller local charities, or any linked to your occupation, that may be able to provide financial assistance.
The Disability Grants website has details of a variety of charities and trusts which give out grants to disabled people and their families and carers.
Carers Trust has a good list of funding opportunities.
Just a few examples of what’s available grants-wise…
This is a very small sampling of what is available. With a bit of research, you can uncover quite a bit of funding for your child.
The Family Fund helps any family in the UK who are raising a disabled or seriously ill child aged 17 or under. They will consider any grant request that relates to the needs of a disabled or seriously ill child and their family. In particular they can help with essential items such as household goods, family breaks or equipment for college or school. Family Fund grant up to £500 per family per year. This means if you have more than one autistic child, you will still just get up to £500. You can use your Family Fund grant for things like clothing, tablets or computers and musical equipment.
The Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust provides grants to families of disabled children where a parent works in the fashion industry, eg a clothing shop or even a supermarket that sells clothing.
Caudwell Children provides grants for disabled children for equipment, therapy programmes, treatment and family support.
Boparan Charitable Trust provides funding for specialist equipment and therapies.
Children Today provides funding for specialist equipment including sensory toys
Family Action provides grants for essential personal and household needs for families and individuals on a low income, particularly those living on benefits. In addition funding is available for disability aids. Please note that Family Action does not accept applications directly from individuals. Applications need to be made by a referring agency such as carers’ services, agencies that provide health or social care, housing associations or GPs.
Your local council should have an emergency fund to help you in the event of a crisis. Here is the link for Bristol.
Churches often have benevolence funds to help local people. Speak to your church (or a church local to you; you may not need to be a member) for help with funding specific items or therapies.
If your child is in further or higher education, or vocational training, you can apply to the Snowdon Trust for help with additional disability-related costs. They give grants for items like computer equipment or travel costs.
Able Kidz Educational Trust has educational grants available to children and young people under the age of 18 who are disabled. Grants are to assist with education costs, like extra tuition, computers and specialist equipment.
The Family Holiday Association helps families with a child between 3 and 18 who are on a low income and have not had a holiday for four years to have a break.
Revitalise provides respite care in a holiday setting for disabled people with or without their carers.
Happy Days Children’s Charity offers breaks for families with a child or children who are aged 13 – 17 and have special educational needs
Grants for carers
We are told on aeroplanes that if the plane starts to go down, as parents, it is vital to put our own oxygen masks on first before our kids’. The same goes in life; we need to look after ourselves first, so we can truly be there for our children. If you care for a disabled person for free, whether you receive Carers Allowance or not, you are still considered a carer and may be entitled to financial help for things like short breaks, essential items or pursuing a hobby.
Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council both have carers funds which carers can apply to once a year for a one-off grant. These grants help meet the costs of anything to help with your mental well-being or to make your life easier; whether that be paying for a weekend away without the kids, a laptop, or towards the fees and childcare to attend that yoga class or creative writing evening course you have always wanted to do.
To access the grant you will usually need to have a carers assessment (which isn’t as scary as it sounds, it isn’t an assessment of you, but more an assessment of your needs). If you live in Bristol or South Gloucestershire you can find out more by contacting the Carers Support Centre on 0117 965 2200.
The Respite Association provides funding towards the cost of respite breaks for carers.
Click here for more information about grants and other funding available to carers.