- Local charities seeing a surge in need have created a campaign to raise awareness of crisis help available for people facing hardship from Wandsworth Council.
- The campaign urges local people whose income doesn’t cover the cost of essentials to #GetHelpToWeatherTheStorm.
- The campaign highlights that residents with No Recourse to Public Funds, working families and people waiting for first payment of universal credit are all eligible for Wandsworth Council’s scheme, called the Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund.
As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic hits those on low income hardest, local charities have come together to urge people who have been pulled into hardship to apply for Wandsworth Council’s Discretionary Social Fund (WDSF).
Through this local welfare assistance scheme, Wandsworth residents can apply for emergency help towards:
- Costs of food and utilities (Sainsburys and Asda supermarket vouchers, and gas/electricity grants for prepayment meters)
- Costs of essential white goods and furniture (such as fridge, cooker, bed, table and chairs)
- Rent costs (Discretionary Housing Payment)
At the moment residents can only apply online, but local charities hope the Council will provide a phone service to help people who are unable to apply online. Residents can receive up to three grants in the next six months, and information can be found on the Council’s website: https://wandsworth.gov.uk/housing/benefits-and-support/discretionary-support-grants/.
Dan Frith, Wandsworth Foodbank says: “During lockdown we’ve seen the need for our food bank more than double, and we’ve already provided more than 3000 emergency food parcels to local people who can’t afford enough food for themselves and their families. We’re really glad to help, but it’s not right that anyone should have to rely on charity for their basic needs. No charity can replace the dignity of being able to buy your own food.
“It’s vital that local people know about and can access crisis provision from their local Council, so they can get help to weather the storm in these unprecedented times.”
Mary-Ann Foxwell, Citizens Advice Wandsworth says: “Unprecedented numbers of local residents are coming to us because they don’t have enough money to live on. Perhaps their wages aren’t being paid in full, or they have lost their job and are experiencing delays in getting benefits paid correctly, or their benefit payment just isn’t enough to cover their family’s basic living expenses.
“Low wages and high costs have left many people unable to save for hard times like these, and we are keen that residents without a safety-net know they can apply for this extra help from Wandsworth Council.”
Aaron Barbour, Katherine Low Settlement says: “The Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund is a vital lifeline for many local residents who are struggling to weather this Covid-19 storm. This Fund can help address people’s hardship by putting food on the table, paying for electric and gas and ensuring a roof over their head. We’d encourage all local people who need it to make an application via the Council’s website – including families who have No Recourse to Public Funds, who can now also get help from this Fund.
“We’ve seen how the lockdown has made many people’s life a misery, both economically and emotionally. Local charities, community groups and the Council have sprung into action, and this Discretionary Fund is another important piece of the support jigsaw.”
Patrick Marples, South West London Law Centres says: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on many people’s incomes, with many local people unable to afford essential costs, including rent. Although evictions have been stopped until August, it’s vital that people can keep paying their rent if we’re to avoid a tsunami of evictions in the autumn. We hope many people will able to get help towards rent and other essential costs from Wandsworth Council’s Discretionary Social Fund, when they need it most.”
Louise Christie, Wandsworth Carers’ Centre says: “Since lockdown began, we’ve seen a significant increase, particularly in the amount of foodbank referrals we’re making and the advice we’re giving around finances and benefits. When we speak to Carers, it’s clear that for a large number the pandemic has had, and continues to have, a real impact on their finances.
“Our support workers regularly assist our Carers in applying for Discretionary Social Fund payments or vouchers in times of crisis, but it is important that anyone who needs help is aware that it’s available and how to access it.”