grants and services provided across the UK in 2017/18

We helped families in every postcode area of the UK last year. Find out more about how we did it.

Our year in numbers

How many applications did we receive? What did families need most?

Find out here 

Our services

We provide other help alongside our main grant programme. Read more about our digital skills programme, sleep support, information provision and other grant support.


Discover what we do 

Other grant support

Alongside our financial grant support, we can also provide help to families through two other grant schemes, Take a Break and Sibling Matter Too.


Read more about these 

Voices of families

We are very lucky to have so many of our families write blogs for us, describing what day-to-day life is like, both the highs and the lows, in their own words.


Find out what they have to say 


We are proud of the help and support we are able to provide to families raising disabled or seriously ill children. But much of our work would not be possible without the expertise and experience of other organisations working in partnership with us.




Partnerships for families


Family Fund works with a range of suppliers to provide grant items to families. Our suppliers provide families with choice, control, and an assurance of quality in the grant items they receive. They allow us to help more families than we would otherwise be able to and support our obligations to funders.


Working with suppliers gives us the opportunity to offer added value to families. In some cases, we are able to provide more than just the standard product or service requested, for example, providing travel insurance in addition to family breaks, comprehensive warranties on white goods, or user support and insurance on technology. These provide peace of mind for a family.


Suppliers come to understand the difficulties that families face, and can provide a more tailored service and ongoing support to meet their needs. They are extremely supportive of our work and happily ‘go the extra mile’, often getting involved in fundraising activities.


Through negotiations, we ensure that value for money on products and services is achieved. Discounts and rebates from our supplier contracts reduce the net cost of our grants and allow us to support more families each year. This meant that in 2017/18, we were able to generate additional income of £3.3million from these supplier relationships, all of which was used to provide more grant items to families.

We were able to generate additional income of £3.3million from these supplier relationships, all of which was used to provide more grant items to families.

Partnerships to help reach more families and join up support


We work with a large range of organisations to reach families who could be eligible for our support. Through presentations, events and providing printed or digital information, we help more professionals to understand who Family Fund can help and how they can support families to apply.


We look for opportunities to improve referral links between organisations so that families contacting one organisation can be made aware of other suitable, available support and, ideally, can access this more easily. Organisations we work with in this way include ContactMencapSenseNewlifeRainbow Trust and KIDS.


It is important for us to reach out and try to connect with all potentially eligible families in the UK, and we tailor our promotional activities appropriately. One group we have been particularly looking to improve our connections with are families raising children with rare conditions. These families do not always have the same networks or support available as those raising children with more prevalent conditions. We have made further efforts over the last year to build better contacts and information sharing with organisations that support these families such as Genetic Alliance UK, Rare Disease UK and the Tuberous Sclerosis Association.

We believe that such collaboration can lead to a more efficient use of resources, make it easier for families to access the range of support they may need, and ultimately deliver better outcomes for families. It is an area of work that we are keen to develop further in future years.

Our urgent referrer network continued to refer families to us for emergency grant support, with 2,427 families benefiting from timely help in times of need and crisis. We continue to be grateful to our network of professionals in hospitals, hospices and other health-care settings, whose consideration for families’ needs makes delivery of this vital service possible. The value of this service has led to a pilot of a related scheme in hospices in Scotland, which we will be completing and evaluating in 2018 before deciding whether to extend it further in 2019.




Service delivery partnerships


Where appropriate, we can provide practical help and support alongside our grants. But in order to achieve this, partnerships with expert organisations are essential.


In our work to provide information and advice relating to sleep support, we continue to work closely with The Children’s Sleep Charity, supporting the ‘Children and Young People’s Sleep Manifesto’ launched in October at Westminster. We have strengthened links with local communities to map existing sleep services and have continued to support the sleep programmes of our Tired Out partners such as CerebraContact and Scope.


As we continue to develop our provision of telephone information, advice and support, we learned a great deal from working with experts at Contact through trialling a pilot live transfer and appointment system. We also began work with Turn2Us and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to use their search tools and data when responding to family requests.


With support from our digital device suppliers, Stone and MCC, we have continued to deliver face-to-face training to families via Apple Education Trainers to help them use iPads and other Apple computers as part of our Digital Skills Programme. This year, we have also partnered with AbilityNet to provide assistance to families on a wider range of digital devices.


In the development of the wider strategic direction of the programme, and to ensure best fit with other work on this agenda, we are also part of a digital skills working group together with RNIBSCVOOne Digital and Good Things Foundation. Here we collectively share learning and outcomes from recent digital projects supported by Big Lottery Fund.





Partnerships for change


We work with individuals and organisations across the UK to try and ensure that the needs of families raising disabled or seriously ill children are being considered as part of changes to policy and legislation.


In England, we have helped progress the work of the Disabled Children’s Partnership to address the lack of health and social care services; improve the quality of services available; make sure families can access those services; and ensure professionals communicate with each other and work together. The Partnership launched in July 2017 with the Secret Life of Us campaign, to raise awareness of the everyday, and unknown, challenges faced by families, highlighting that 43% of the public don’t know anyone who is disabled. In November, we supported the Parliamentary launch of a five-step plan to address the crisis in health and social care services and continue to support work to influence policy changes to meet these challenges.

In December 2017, we worked with Grandparents Plus to draw attention to the increasing debt, and resulting food poverty, that grandparent carers and kinship carers often find themselves in as a result of looking after children whose parents no longer can. This work followed on from a survey we did to contribute to a government consultation on older carers and hunger – one of a number we responded to by facilitating the contribution of the views and experiences of families raising disabled or seriously ill children.


In Northern Ireland, we contributed to Children In Northern Ireland’s work with the All Party Group on Children and Young People to help develop policy recommendations to prevent ‘holiday hunger’ amongst children. Our research showed that 79% of parents and carers in Northern Ireland had struggled to afford health food for their disabled or seriously ill children in the last year, with almost half (46%) reporting missing a meal in order to feed their children instead. These findings were covered in both Northern Ireland-based and UK-wide press and we await further policy developments.


We continue to be involved with a number of bodies advocating with and on behalf of families and responded to a number of policy consultations both individually and as part of these groups. In Scotland, we are represented on the for Scotland’s Disabled Children co-ordination group, and are members of Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), Play Scotland and Children in Scotland. We are also members of Children in Wales, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, and of Children in Northern Ireland.


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4 Alpha Court, Monks Cross Drive, York YO32 9WN

The Family Fund Trust for Families with Severely Disabled Children. Private company limited by guarantee. Incorporated in England and Wales. Registration no. 3166627. Registered charity no. 1053866. Scottish charity no. SC040810.

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