Temporary crisis situations can be addressed from the Welfare Scheme in Durham County. The council partners with Civica, the Help and Advice Network Durham (HAND), Family Fund, and Five Lamps to provide help to the vulnerable and families on a low income that are in a financial hardship.
There are two main components to the scheme, and they include assistance for living expenses or basic needs, and the council can also help with resettlement or homeless prevention. All funds are at the discretion of the council, and the aim is to provide support to applicants with a one-off emergency.
Types of help from the scheme in Durham
Individuals or families that need support so they can remain living in their home, or resettle in community can benefit from the Settlement Grants. This is a fairly broad grant service and it can addresses a number of needs, all at the discretion of the council and its partner organisations.
- Furniture for a new council home or private property can be provided using a grant. This can include items such as bedding, white goods, tables or chairs, kitchen pans and cutlery, and more.
- The council may decide to use funds from the Welfare Assistance Scheme to pay the deposit or first months rent. Or, they will provide referrals to other schemes for those expenses.
- Housing payment assistance can be for people that were in a hostel or sleeping in a night shelter or some other temporary supported lodging in Durham County.
Throughout the resettlement process, there will be free advice given to the individual on locating a new home or property to let, and the housing team from HAND will offer ongoing support. This will help prevent future homelessness and ensure the living situation is stable as the aim is to help people remain in the Durham community.
Daily Living Expenses can also be covered by the welfare scheme. This is for addressing a crisis or other unforeseen circumstances, and there may also be help for disasters. Some of the bills that can be paid as part of living expenses are as follows.
- Food needs, such as milk, pudding, soup, and grocery items are covered, and applicants are issued a Supermarket voucher.
- Utility bills are covered using a pre-paid card, and those costs paid may be for gas arrears during the winter or water bill.
- Travel expenses for an illness.
- For residents with no electricity, reconnection charges are paid.
Funds are limited, so Daily Living Expenses will put priority on people faced with a medical or health crisis if they can’t get the support they need. This will include the most vulnerable in Durham too, such as a household with a dependent children, domestic violence victims and older people. There is also assistance for those with special situations, including substance mis-users or ex-offenders.
All applications for the Welfare Assistance Scheme, whether for a grant or living expenses, will be assessed by the council. The eligibility requirements and conditions need to be met, or an award will not issued from the scheme. One criteria is the person seeking help can’t have access to any other financial aid, not from a charity, friend, or family member.
To learn more or receive an application, call the Help and Advice Network in Durham, also known as HAND. The phone number is 0300 111 0557, or the council can also answer questions. If you are threatened with exceptional circumstances that they did not cause, such as job loss, then the application will be reviewed as quickly as possible.