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Charity says ‘Turn To Us’ to access money for people in financial need

Research released today (27 November 2008) by charity Turn2us shows that people are six times more likely to increase their borrowing from banks than seek help from charities, if they were to face financial difficulties. 

If they lost their income or were unable to pay their bills, 25% of respondents said they would borrow from banks and 14% would use credit cards. By comparison, only 4% said they would think to seek help from a charitable source, despite the existence of approximately 3,300 charities that give grants to people in financial need. 

Less than half (36%) of those surveyed would access welfare benefits and around one in eight (14%) said there wasn’t anywhere they would be able to get money from.

Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Turn2us, comments:

“This is worrying.  People need to be aware of all of the sources of financial help available to them when they are experiencing problems, so that they are equipped to make the right decisions to tackle their immediate crisis and ensure their long-term financial health.”

The internet and independent advice agencies were the most popular routes people said they would use to seek information on sources of money (46% and 50%, respectively). Turn2us believes members of the public, especially those who are vulnerable and have not sought help before, must have access to free, comprehensive and reliable information on the internet and help in finding an adviser. 84% of those surveyed said they felt there should be a service available that tells people with financial problems about all the money available to them.

In response, Turn2us is launching its expanded online service – www.turn2us.org.uk - that helps people struggling with money to maximise their income through benefits, tax credits and grants. The website contains new comprehensive information and tools, produced by experts.  The Turn2us benefits and grants searches help people to assess what money is available based on their personal need. They are also able to contact grant-giving charities on and off-line and to find an adviser or organisation to support them further with benefits applications. In addition, a new dedicated service for intermediaries is also available on the site, helping them manage on-line enquiries to grant-giving charities on behalf of clients through their own Turn2us account.

The service is available free to all users, thanks to the support of Elizabeth Finn Care, the charity that founded Turn2us.

Turn2us is urging intermediary organisations, such as advice and support services, and grant-giving charities to sign up to use the service and to signpost it to anyone they come across experiencing money problems.

Steve Johnson, Chief Executive of Advice UK, comments:

“Advisers are telling us that they are experiencing increasing demand for their services as a result of recent economic problems.  They need access to information and support to be able to help more people, quickly and effectively. Turn2us is an invaluable tool for advice workers, to help them find all of the money available for their clients, particularly charitable grants.”

In recent Charity Commission research, 21 per cent of charities said they were under pressure from rising costs themselves. Turn2us offers grant-giving charities the opportunity to access and manage referrals quickly and for free. It also enables them to inform people of any changes to their availability and giving criteria.

Fred Payne, Chair of the Benevolence Today coalition and Vice Chair of the Association of Charitable Officers, says:

“Thousands of grant-giving charities exist to help people in financial need, but we must increase awareness of them. Turn2us is an essential bridge, allowing charities to make it clear whether they have funds available and to communicate quickly and efficiently with people that meet their giving criteria.”

Case Study

Fifty three year-old Anna found the Bankers Benevolent Fund through Turn2us.  After more than 20 years in banking, Anna suffered an injury that meant she was unable to work and it became a struggle to make ends meet. She simply didn’t know what help was available or how to access it. Through the Turn2us website, Anna made an online enquiry and discovered she was eligible for support. So far she has received £1,600 from the Bankers Benevolent Fund, which has helped her with vital house repairs and heating costs.

Intermediaries, grant-giving charities and others helping people in financial need can sign up to the Turn2us service, free of charge by visiting www.turn2us.org.uk.

-Ends-

Notes to editors

  • The YouGov survey was commissioned by Turn2us in October 2008 with a sample size of 2,069.
  • There are over 3,300 charities that give grants to people in financial need (sourced from Directory of Social Change).
  • 21 per cent of charities say they are under pressure from rising costs themselves (sourced from research commissioned by the Charity Commission, September 2008).
  • Turn2us believes it is unacceptable that, despite the UK being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, we have 13 million people living in poverty. 3.8 million are children (source: 2005/2006 Family Resources Survey - The Poverty Site).
  • Turn2us helps people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, grants and other financial help. It was founded in August 2007 by the charity Elizabeth Finn Care.
  • Elizabeth Finn Care is the UK's leading grant giving, poverty specific charity.
  • Turn2us has developed its service in partnership with its Strategic Development Group members, which include Advice UK, The Association of Charity Officers, Benevolence Today, Child Poverty Action Group, Citizens Advice, Home-Start UK and the Money Advice Trust.

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