This year has been one of the most challenging to date for HOMELINK’s applicants and clients, who have been hit very hard by the cost of living crisis.
Our core service has flatlined. We are making fewer interest-free loans to assist with rent in advance and security deposits as the rental market has tightened, with fewer properties being available and at higher monthly rents. Sadly, the private rental market is now simply out of reach for many of those on lower incomes and/or reliant on benefits, especially given the disparity between local housing allowances and actual rents.
Conversely, our (non-repayable) Traditional Small Grants Programme has been inundated with referrals for essential household goods for those who cannot afford them. By September this year we had already received 110 applications, far in excess of the total for 2022 and from a wider referral base of statutory and charitable organisations. The allocated budget of £25,000 will be used up before the end of the accounting year, with trustees having to decide if they can find further funds for the programme before 2024 starts, when the budget is due to be replenished.
In addition, throughout 2022 and up until September 2023, HOMELINK was grateful to receive (and exhaust) one-off funding of £40,000 for a bespoke and additional Small Grants Project (which ran in parallel with the Traditional Small Grants Programme), designed specifically to assist with the cost of living crisis. The funder, the Enjoolata Foundation, allowed HOMELINK to design a grants programme to meet the needs of its applicants and clients.
This programme recently closed, having made an impressive 286 grants in the categories of Micro Emergency (151 grants made to assist those presenting with an immediate crisis, normally without food or energy supplies), Energy Savings (65 grants made for insulating items such as carpets and curtains) and Start Up (70 grants made for essential small items/food for those taking a new rental home).
The HOMELINK office continues to operate four days a week, Tuesday to Friday. It offers hope, compassion, signposting and practical advice to those who get in touch, many of whom are facing the most difficult of times. If we can help, we will – so please do contact us.
Gary Brettle & Shaun Gilbert, Client Managers
Gill Short, Lead Small Grants Administrator