Our Covid Response Fund: an evaluation

This article is 20 months old


A brief recap

In April 2021, Turn2us joined forces with six community organisations. We had one aim: to get funds to the people who had been worst affected by the pandemic as quickly as possible, in a way that preserved their dignity.  

The Covid Response Fund distributed over £723,000 over three months. On average, we gave £758 per grant.  

Why evaluate? 

The Covid Response Fund was a new way of working for all involved. For that reason, it was crucial to look back at the lessons learnt, in order to keep our organisation accountable and pave the way for more work like this. Our hope is that our learnings will inspire and educate other grant-makers. 

What we learnt 

Different communities have different barriers to support  

The pandemic affected people’s finances in different ways. Some were grappling with a job loss, while others had an increased cost of living due to spending more time at home. Women experiencing domestic abuse were particularly affected by a lack of financial security.  

While the government delivered some support to people during the pandemic, not everyone was eligible for it. Individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) were not entitled to any support at all, and digital exclusion made applying for benefits difficult for some.  

Given that everyone had such different needs and circumstances, we agreed as a partnership that there should be no conditions on the grant, so people could spend it however they wished.   

Unconditional grants preserve dignity and establish trust  

More than half of grantees told us that their financial needs were met by the grants they received. During our evaluation of the grant, we also looked at the wider picture, identifying that 91% of grantees said their mental wellbeing had improved after receiving a grant. 

 This tells us that pairing direct cash grants with personalised support is effective in ways that go beyond the immediate relief of financial worries. There were no restrictions on what grantees could spend the money on, and the partners worked collaboratively to award grants quickly and unconditionally. This helped to establish trust between grantees and partners and made grantees more likely to seek out further support.  

The demand for clear, focused information has never been greater 

As part of our evaluation, Turn2us identified a clear need to review our information materials for people with NRPF, as well as for those who have experienced financial abuse.  

Our research revealed that 71% of grantees had not heard of Turn2us before receiving their grant. In some cases, this might have been because our tools were not relevant to users – for example, people with NRPF are not entitled to benefits, so would not use the Benefits Calculator.  

In other cases, grantees placed more trust in community support workers and organisations, so would be more likely to go to them for support. We explore some reasons for this – including language barriers, lack of IT and mistrust of the system – in the report.  

Working in partnership builds capacity, strength and resilience.  

Turn2us worked in partnership with six community organisations and Action Women’s Network (SAWN) and Fair Money Advice (FMA).  

Ultimately, this enabled us to reach a broader range of people who have been financially affected by Covid-19. Turn2us gained clear insight into how we can make targeted grant-making more inclusive, while our partner organisations benefited from shared learning and new networks. Ultimately, we saw how immediate financial support bought time for partners and their clients, giving them space to think beyond the immediate crisis and plan lasting, tailored support.  


Read the full report today.