Sue Dean, our new welfare officer, is at the heart of our welfare support. She spends her time liaising with HR teams around the country to educate them on what they can do to support grass roots, in addition being the primary point of contact for people applying for support.
However, I also discovered she is the font of all knowledge when it comes to questions about access to help for those in need.
One Step at a Time has resulted in an unprecedented 42% upsurge in welfare giving so, in recent meeting with Sue, I wanted to know more about the process.
People are often too proud to ask for help, how can they overcome this?
Reaching out for help, whether it is a minor bump in the road, or a major crisis can sometimes feel like failure and can be a very lonely place but that’s the reason we’re here to help when times are tough, so try not to let pride get in the way. We are a 100-year old charity and we want our industry colleagues to know they have a friend in us when life throws a curve ball. Just talking to someone outside one’s immediate circle, who will listen and who has no other agenda than to help, can often be such a boost when its needed most.
What kind of help can we offer?
We can award a grant for a wide range of purposes and each application will be considered individually. As a guide, we often help with essential household bills, such as rent/mortgage, Council Tax, gas & electricity. Or with replacement items such as cooker, fridge or washing machine. We can consider grants towards funeral expenses, disability aids or adaptations or costs of moving home. We do not normally help with credit card debts, bank loans, bankruptcy fees, legal costs, private education fees or private health care.
How do applicants understand whether they are eligible to apply?
To be eligible for financial assistance, you must normally have a minimum of two years’ employment service in any capacity within the UK furnishing industry. This includes companies manufacturing/supplying furniture, kitchens or bathrooms; furniture stores such as DFS, Bright House, Ikea, Argos; carpet sales or fitting; beds, curtains and upholstery. Applications from partners and dependents of deceased employees can also be considered,
Where ‘dependent’ is defined as an individual who is financially or emotionally dependent upon the industry employee either through age (under 18) or due to mental or physical disability.
How will the grant be paid?
In most cases our grant will be paid to the creditor, supplier or contractor. However, we will always talk this through on an individual basis.
Why do applicants have to show you their bank statement?
As a charity, we need to ensure that our funds go to those most in need. We understand that you may have some savings, and this will not necessarily mean that we can’t help you, but we will take your whole situation into account.
What if applicants no longer work in the furnishing industry, am I still eligible?
You can still apply to us, if you have previously worked in the industry for at least two years. We will ask for you to provide paperwork to show when you worked in the furniture trade and what you did, such as a payslip, employment letter or similar.
Often applicants want their grants to be confidential and ask, ‘Will my employer have to know’?
No. Our service is entirely confidential, and we will never approach your employer unless you ask us to contact them to confirm your employment. We do ask for evidence that you have worked in the furnishings industry, but you can supply evidence such as pay slips, P60 or contract of employment.
How can more companies join us and become a One Step Champion?
It’s so easy, just a simple communications tick box and a belief that we should all help each other especially when the chips are down. By working together to spread the word to thousands of industry workers, we have kicked open a door that very much needed to be opened. Why not join a growing number of companies who really care about their employees?