Press release: Disability charities benefit from £2.4 million fund

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Press release: Disability charities benefit from £2.4 million fund

  • Charities supporting disabled people, autistic people and those with a learning disability set to benefit
  • Money will help charities run helplines, combat loneliness and fund activities
  • Sensory play kits for children to enjoy art and sport among schemes to receive cash boost

Thirteen charities that help autistic people, disabled people and those with a learning disability who are struggling with the effects of the pandemic will benefit from 2.4 million of additional government funding.

The money will support people of all ages to improve their physical and mental wellbeing by funding services to provide practical support for disabled children, set up and expand helplines, provide mental health and wellbeing support for both staff and disabled people and support advocacy.

This follows the success of a 1.2 million fund given to charities in July 2020 to provide COVID-19 support. Minister for Care, Helen Whately said:

I know this last year has been a particularly difficult time for disabled people, autistic people and those with a learning disability.

COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on them and we are doubling our investment in this fund to ensure people of all ages receive advice and support. It will help vital charities offer projects which are improving the physical and mental wellbeing of thousands every day.

The new funding will support the important work these 13 charities are doing to help people affected by the pandemic, including:

  • practical support is being offered to disabled children and their families, such as distributing sensory equipment and play at home kits, as well as virtual education, learning and play opportunities
  • helplines have been set up or expanded to provide information and expert, tailored advice to support disabled people and their families throughout the pandemic as well as COVID-19-specific digital resources, including to ensure disabled people understand their eligibility for the vaccine
  • charities have provided online courses and wellbeing calls to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of disabled people and provide virtual support to reduce social isolation during the pandemic
  • frontline staff working with disabled children and adults have had their wellbeing and resilience supported, including through qualifications in Positive Behaviour Support to help those working with people who have the most complex needs
  • the advocacy sector has also been boosted to support those seeking to access advocacy services to ensure disabled people and their families and carers are able to make their voices heard

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Justin Tomlinson said:

The wellbeing and practical support provided by these charities throughout the pandemic has been invaluable to disabled people and their families.

This funding provides a significant boost to these organisations and will impact positively on the disabled people using their services.

As we look to build back better, the day to day needs of every person will be at the heart of our policy making, including our forthcoming National Strategy for Disabled People that will ensure disabled people have consistent access to the support that they need.

In July 2020 a 1.2 million grant was provided to 7 learning disability and autism organisations to provide direct COVID-19 support to individuals, families and carers during the first wave. This latest funding is an extension to this, and to ensure the support reaches as many people as possible it has been extended to 6 more charities providing services across England.

This funding is for work which has had a significant positive impact on autistic people, disabled people and those with a learning disability, as well as their families and carers.

One of the projects run through the charity Sense has provided over 1,000 arts, sports and wellbeing kits to disabled children, families and adults to help support them through the pandemic.

Leonard Cheshire has supported 1,700 young disabled people since April 2020, delivering over 200 virtual sessions to combat loneliness. This was particularly effective between academic terms, and ensured regular engagement avoids any break in routines which can exacerbate existing anxiety and mental health issues.

Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Barran, said:

Im very pleased that this additional funding will go towards supporting charities and organisations helping disabled people, autistic people, and those with a learning disability.

The last year has been lonely and difficult for many, but its important to remember that as lockdown restrictions are eased, not everyone will be able to return to normal life straight away.

Were committed to ensuring that they continue to have access to the help they need.

Anne Brook, Director of Family Support at Contact, said:

The funding from DHSC has been invaluable. Its meant weve been able to increase the capacity of our national helpline during the crisis and purchase digital equipment for staff to continue working with families facing immense challenges as they care for children struggling with changes to their routine, increased anxiety and challenging behaviour.

Importantly this funding has enabled Contact to be more innovative and reach out to more families in brand new ways. For example we set up our successful Listening Ear phone service for parents who, at a time that suits them, can talk to us and get advice about coping with the emotional consequences of caring throughout the pandemic.

In short the funding has helped Contact continue to be there for families with disabled children throughout the pandemic when theyve needed our trusted support, advice and information more than ever before.

Jamie Dormandy, RNIBs Head of Advice and Customer Service, said:

During the pandemic and various national lockdowns, people with sight loss have faced additional concerns and practical challenges, from how to practise social distancing to how to connect with others online.

In response, RNIB has supported thousands of people with advice via our Helpline and online, and connected people to local sources of support and groups running online and over the phone. We are very pleased that DHSC has recognised the additional impact the pandemic has had on blind and partially sighted people and the role RNIB has played in providing vital support.

The government has taken action to protect and support disabled people throughout the pandemic as it is clear COVID-19 disproportionately impacts certain groups, including those with specific health conditions.This includes prioritising those at risk for vaccinations, advising those clinically extremely vulnerable to shield when required and providing direct support to help them do this, and ensuring that NHS Volunteer Responders are on hand to collect medicine, deliver shopping and provide other essential tasks to ensure they were supported.

The government has also provided billions of pounds worth of additional welfare support during the COVID-19 crisis. This is on top of 4.6 billion to support local authorities to cope with added pressures, including in adult social care, to make sure disabled people are able to access the support they need throughout the pandemic.

Background information

The funding has been awarded to charities uniquely placed to provide national support to a large number of disabled people for needs arising as a direct result of the pandemic. They include:



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