Charity calls for families with young disabled adults to seek support
Families caring for young disabled adults at home are being offered help by a forward-thinking national charity to improve quality of life.
Faced with three times higher costs to bring up disabled children, the continuing cost-of-living crisis is placing families in financial jeopardy. It is therefore even harder to afford the things that improve their disabled young adult’s day-to-day living.
National charity Family Fund is now urging families with a disabled 18-24 year-old living at home to apply for wide-ranging grants through its Your Opportunity scheme.
Set up four years ago, to help young disabled adults lead more fulfilling lives and realise ambitions – the scheme offers grants to support the transition to adulthood and includes technology, training and leisure activities.
Your Opportunity has supported over 1,200 families across the UK in the last 12 months and immediate funds are now available to help many more.
Family Fund is the UK’s largest grant-making charity for families living on a low income, raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people. Last year, it provided over 170,919 grants and services worth over £37 million to families across the UK.
The charity’s latest research, based on polls with the families it supports, shows that over four out of five families (82%) say they cannot replace worn out furniture and nearly four out of five (78%) say they cannot afford to repair or replace major electrical goods such as cookers, fridges or washing machines.
For nearly half of families with disabled children and young people, paying for a beneficial activity or hobby for their disabled child is out of the question.
Cheryl Ward, Family Fund’s Chief Executive Officer, said:
“We continue to see families with disabled or seriously ill children and young people increasingly struggling to afford the most basic household essentials like food and heating as costs rise and many face mounting debts.
“This means there is very little room for the extras which improve a young person’s quality of life- yet when a child reaches 18, they lose an average of 57% of the support and benefits they had before they reached adulthood.
“Raising a disabled or seriously ill child is three times more expensive than raising other children and this financial cliff-edge at 18 can be very tough for parents and carers of young adults. With the cost of living continuing to increase, we’re urging families to apply to us for grants as soon as possible, through our Your Opportunity scheme.”
Your Opportunity grants include:
computers or tablets to support young people with further education, online hobbies and the overall building of independence;
transport costs for bus fares for appointments, or to support independent travel to clubs or hobbies;
help with the cost of membership fees, season tickets, computer games, and music systems to promote recreation and days out;
help with the cost of buying a provisional driving licence, and other learning materials to support driving ambitions;
white goods to help with independence, or help make mealtimes easier for carers;
sports, or lightweight, wheelchairs to enable participation in sport activities, or access to activities that would not be possible with a day-to-day wheelchair.
The Your Opportunity scheme was initially set up in 2019 by Family Fund, with funding from Edward Gostling Foundation, Pears Foundation and funding raised by Family Fund.
Cheryl Ward added:
“We are extremely grateful to The Edward Gostling Foundation and Pears Foundation for recognising the need to support our work in improving the lives of young people across the UK.”
Families are eligible to apply if the young person lives at home with their parent or main carer.
Families interested in making an application for a young person should go to:
Your Opportunity: Help for 18-24 year-olds | Family Fund
George, 22, has Down’s Syndrome and autism. He lives in Derbyshire with mum, Jemma, step-father Shaun and brother Charlie, 19, has breathing problems and requires an oxygen machine when asleep.
Jemma said: “The cost-of-living crisis has impacted our lives hugely. I worry about it a lot because when you have a child, like George, who requires the use of an oxygen machine overnight, your bills are horrendous.
“After George turned 18, a lot of the support finished but life didn’t get any easier. Our lives didn’t change, and we still need support.
“I’ve always been frugal with things but it’s getting to a point where I think I literally can’t cut back anymore. I shop in the cheaper supermarkets and buy the reduced items. I do everything that I can but it comes to a point where there’s nothing more that you can do. We don’t ever eat out or have takeaways.
“We’ve not been on holiday, or go on day trips. Also, because I’m a carer, I can’t even do more hours at work because I don’t have anyone else to look after George. Everything is going up but we don’t have any more money.
“The biggest worry for me is the cost of electricity and running George’s oxygen machine. I genuinely have no idea if I’m going to be able to run that at Christmas. If the cost goes up even more then I probably won’t be able to.
“Furthermore, the cost of fuel is huge. It’s got to the point where I only drive to work and back. I used to take George on drives to visit places, but we can’t afford to do that anymore.”
George enjoys singing and performing arts at his specialist college and his family are anxious to be able to support activities that further improve his quality of life at home.
Grants from the Your Opportunity scheme have helped the family purchase items - a swinging garden chair and a computer - which they could not otherwise have afforded.
Jemma added: “George absolutely loves the chair. He never used to sit outside before, but now he spends hours on it rocking, so when the weather is fine he is able to sit out and enjoy time in the garden.
“George also uses the computer for his specialised programmes that help his conditions through education and entertainment. He loves technology.”
Family Fund is the UK’s largest grant-making charity for disabled and seriously ill children and young people, established in 1973, supporting families to have the same opportunities as others.It does this by providing grants for essential items such as kitchen appliances, clothing, bedding, sensory toys, computers and tablets, much-needed family breaks and more. Last year, we provided over 170,919 grants and services worth over £37 million to families across the UK.
For more information on who Family Fund helps please visit www.familyfund.org.uk.