• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

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Sunderland’s Grace House Charity Extends Help For Families Of Disabled Children In Managing Cost Of Living Crisis

Vicki Cavanagh, family support and nuture coordinator at Grace HouseVicki Cavanagh, family support and nuture coordinator at Grace House

A Sunderland charity is giving dozens of local families of children with disabilities much-needed extra support to help navigate the cost-of-living crisis.

Grace House is using a £4,997 grant from Newcastle Building Society to extend the advice and guidance it can offer around managing the additional costs that families regularly face with caring for their disabled children.

A weekly Life@GraceHouse session with representatives from Citizens Advice Sunderland has been set up at the charity’s Bardolph Drive premises at which families can ask for advice on navigating the financial challenges of day-to-day life.

The project provides guidance, practical support and signposting on easing problems relating to debt, benefits and food poverty, and also provides families with food hampers and lunch box top-ups for children where required.

The grant was provided through the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, which offers grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network.

Grace House, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, aims to support and inspire disabled children, young people and their families by helping them to manage challenges and enjoy the benefits of playing a full part in society.

It was originally established after a huge community fundraising drive by North East broadcaster Kathy Secker, who wanted local children “to have an amazing place where they can come to laugh, learn and live life to the full.”

The charity has around 850 families on its books, with people able to self-refer if they need help, and runs a wide range of other services including preschool and youth groups, counselling services, therapeutic activities, work experience and independent life skills coaching for young people.

Victoria Brown, CEO at Grace House, says: “Families with disabled children often find themselves facing financial challenges due to the extra lengths they need to go to to provide the care required, with one parent often having to give up work to make sure everything that has to be done can be.

“The cost-of-living crisis that we’re all experiencing has hit many of these families especially hard and we’ve responded by looking to provide practical advice and support on money matters wherever it’s required.

“It can be hard for anyone for talk about money problems at the best of times, but what we’ve found is that by welcoming our families into a familiar, comfortable environment, they’re more willing to discuss these issues and can therefore more easily get the help they require.

“We’ve had some really positive feedback from the families that have used the service so far and it’s clearly helping to break down barriers that might otherwise have stopped them getting the help they need.

“Newcastle Building Society’s support has meant we’ve been able to cover the costs of this project without having to take money from our other services, and we’re really grateful to have had their backing to help meet this urgent local need.”

Robert Boak, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s Sunderland branch, who recently visited the charity, adds: “Grace House has been helping North East families meet a whole host of challenges for the last two decades and has made an incalculable difference to the lives of thousands of disabled children and young people.

“We’re very pleased to be helping this excellent community charity to provide even more practical support when and where it’s needed the most.”

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund at the Community Foundation has also contributed over £2.3m in grants and partnerships to a wide variety of charities and projects across the region, including the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Prince’s Trust.

The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.