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Q&A - Vicar's Relief Fund
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Q&A - Vicar's Relief Fund

Q&A - Vicar's Relief Fund

Thread created on: Monday, September 7, 2020
By: Anonymous

We are currently online! Ask your question this afternoon between 1pm and 3pm!

Hi all, 

Staff from the VRF team will be answering any questions that you may have about the fund. This event will be running from 9-11am on Tuesday 8th September. It will be repeated on September 17th 1-3pm, September 22nd 9-11am and October 1st 1-3pm. 

We appreciate that Frontline Workers are time limited and often have demanding workloads. That is why our Forum events are conversation led.

There is no video conference facility, and you are not required to attend the whole conversation.

If you have registered interest via Eventbrite, all you need to do is post a comment or question, and one of our expert event facilitators will respond to your queries!

Please also remember to scroll to the bottom of the page and keep refreshing the Forum thread, so that you are up to date with the latest questions and responses.

Thread Comments


HI. I'm Mark, one of the VRF team. I'm here with my colleague, Nat, and we're looking forward to answering your queries about our fund!
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What would you like to know? What can we fund? How do you apply? How do we decide what to fund? Over to you...

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HI

During lockdown you had an emergency fund which offered money for phones, is this something you will still be funding as it was extremely useful. I am working in South Wales and a number of areas are in local lockdown so we are trying to continue to work remotely. This can be very challenging when people either do not have a mobile or have no credit.

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Thanks for your question Catherine. I am sorry that we are not currently able to fund mobile phones as we have returned to our primary focus on preventing homelessness and accessing accommodation. Due to our limited budget we have had to make this change so that our grants can have the biggest impact they can.

I would suggest that you try Turn2Us. They have a database of grant giving organisations across the country who may be able to point you in the direction of other organisations who might be able to help. Their website is here: https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/

Sorry to not be of more help.

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Hey Hi all not really a question but just wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to you all who do a fantastic job, and for all the people who's lives you have changed, many of my customers would still be homeless so yes thank you

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Hi Andy, Thank you - that is very much appreciated! We are glad that the fund is proving useful and the grants have been able to support some of your customers. However on a similar note - our grants wouldn't have an impact without you providing the support that you do in your role - so a massive thank you to you too! Best wishes

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HI VRF
I like to make 2 points
First during the emergency fund I was able to gain some funds to get Electric Power Meter Top Ups to enable clients who were struggling especially in setting up home to have electric.
Second is on extensions . I have requested an extension 24/8/20 for a client and again 7/920 but had no reply. I know you guys are extremely busy and the work yous do is amazing. Like my self many work from home and the extension request is the VRF email. Wondering if a dedicated email for extensions or something similar good be looked at
As always from us here in NI a big thank you to the VRF team.

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Hi Stephen. Thanks for getting in touch.

1) I am sorry, but the situation with utilities is the same as with Catherine's question about mobile phones. We can't currently fund these, so that we can focus our limited budget directly on preventing homelessness and accessing accommodation.

As before, I would suggest that you try Turn2Us. They have a database of grant giving organisations across the country who may be able to point you in the direction of other organisations who might be able to help. Their website is here: https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/

2) Yes, sorry, due to the volume of applications and emails received we are behind in responding to requests for an extension to send evidence of spend, after a grant has been awarded. Please be reassured that you can still make applications whilst we catch up as you won't be considered as having missed the deadline until we have checked to see if you have been in touch.

Your suggestion about a dedicated email line is a really helpful one. We are reviewing how our response to emails can be improved, especially given the increase in numbers. Having these Q&A sessions is one of the ways we are trying to be more responsive. I will make sure we give thought to your suggestion when we review our email response system.

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Thank you for the questions so far!

If you haven't already, please post a comment or question, and Nat or Mark will respond to you quickly as possible.

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Hi Mark and Nat,
Just popped on to say thank you so much for all your help so far! We share your service with lots of colleagues in the homeless sector as it has been amazing working with you to prevent rough sleepers return to the street via our direct access HARRP and keeping people in their homes safely during COVID. Absolutely life saving work... so thank you again!!

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Thanks Toni. You're very welcome. Delighted to have been able to be a small part of helping your vital work in Luton.

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Good Morning - Some of my clients have been very fortunate to have been helped by the VRF and this had a great impact on helping them turn their lives around. From myself and my clients you are owed a huge thank you..........So, THANKYOU.

One of my clients was awarded money from the VRF late last year as he was due to move into accommodation. This did not happen as it should due to work that needed to be carried out and then covid hit. I was unable to provide the evidence in a timely way as I was on leave and my account was blocked. I emailed to explain and have updated since then. I asked to be unblocked so that other clients could be helped and so I could return the money that has not yet been used ( client is still in temp acc awaiting a solution). I have not had a reply and am unable to log in so I cannot to do either. Please help

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Hi Emma,
We are very pleased to read that we have been able to help some of your clients through the Vicar's Relief Fund.
As you can imagine, due to the COVID 19 crisis, demand for our grants has significantly increased and we have been inundated with a much greater number of applications and enquiries that we are able to deal with in our usual turnaround time. I can only apologise that we haven't been able to reply to regarding the above issue, but thank you for drawing it to our attention. I will ensure it is looked into and we email you regarding it as soon as possible.
Many thanks!

I am in the same situation as Emma, I have emailed a password reset but have had no response, I also had issues regarding funding and evidence during the pandemic but I am unable to log in or discuss the issue further. The fund has been extremely helpful. I would like to resolve the issues in order to continue to use your service.

Hi Foday,
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Again, I can only apologise that we have not been able to deal with enquiries as quickly as we would normally do so, simply due to dramatically increased numbers of applications and enquiries. I will look into your enquiry and email you regarding this as soon as possible.
We are pleased to read you have found the fund so helpful!
Many thanks,
Alexander

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Hi everyone,

I'm Alexander, one of the coordinators of the Vicar's Relief Fund, and I'm here for the next two hours to answer your questions you might have!

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Good Morning and welcome to the C-19 Frontline Worker Forum!

Today we have Mark and Alexander from our VRF team with us to answer questions and on the Vicar's Relief Fund.

We will be responding to your comments and posts throughout the session, and will collate the key resources you share in your comments at the top of the thread (Key Resources).

Please remember that this Forum Event is an open conversation, and we need to hear from you!

If aren't able to post a comment, please do use the like button, so that other Frontline Workers can see which comments are most helpful.

We look forward to hearing from you all and hope you enjoy this session.

Many thanks,

Marcus
Frontline Network

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Good Morning!

Firstly thank you for all your help throughout the pandemic with regards to emergency funding!

Currently DDC has a temporary allocations policy, whereby properties are being direct matched to vulnerable/homeless customers within days, housing associations seem to be doing the turn around of sign ups pretty much on the same day as completing the initial income and expenditure checks. Unfortunately this means that problems are arising when the housing association request rent in advance, customers have already signed up. This is then putting the customer into arrears from the commencement of their tenancy and due to the VRF current policy not allowing an application to be made once a tenancy has commenced the tenancy is starting off in arrears. Is there any possibility while the pandemic is still happening and our temporary allocations policy is in place that cases can be reviewed on an individual basis, rather than a blanket policy?

Hope this questions makes sense, please do let me know if you have any further questions.

Thanks in advance!


Attached File: 2020-09-22-4199-Allocations Policy COVID changes.pdf - Download

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Many thanks Becky for your question. We were glad we were able to help with some emergency funding in Daventry. We understand this issue and you are not alone in having raised this with us. The problem we have is that we have a very limited budget (at the moment we are receiving applications each morning we are open for nearly 3 times the amount we can allocate for awards). Like yourselves with the temporary allocations policy, and the Housing Associations with their turnaround times, we have to have approaches that mean we can demonstrate a fairness and logic in the way we allocate money.

To do this, we look at the outcome our money can achieve. In cases like these, the client has already accessed the property so we will not help them access accommodation. Although they are in arrears, they are not at immediate risk of eviction and so they fall outside our criteria. If these arrears result in tenancy action down the line, an application can of course then be made to us to clear these arrears to prevent the eviction.

The hard reality is we cannot give money for cases like these as this would mean us turning down applications where our grant meant the client could access a property they otherwise couldn’t.

I am sorry this won’t be the answer you are looking for

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Hi all
We have recently updated our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and you can find them here
https://frontlinenetwork.org.uk/vicars-relief-fund/faq/
We'd welcome any feedback colleagues had about how they have found using them or if they contacted us before looking at these, why?

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Your awards have been so incredibly helpful during the corona virus & I can only thank you for all the people that you have helped. Also your form is extremely user friendly & clear.
I am worried about the number of people getting into serious arrears & the risk that these numbers could rise significantly over the winter months , when it seems likely that there will be further lockdowns & the associated job losses etc.
You are currently offering a maximum of £350 for arrears, but I wondered if this figure may be increased as for the majority of people , this would represent less than a months rent. Many people only seek help when their arrears are getting really high & then the landlord cannot agree to let them stay for only £350 , if the total arrears is high.
Also will you only be able to pay arrears if the landlord has issued a NTQ or can they be paid if there is a risk of an NTQ being issued ?

Thanks for all your amazing work

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Hi Pam,
We are pleased that you have found our VRF useful in helping your clients during the COVID 19 crisis. As you can imagine, we have received a significantly greater number of applications during this time and this has put increased pressure on our budget, meaning we can't usually award more than £350 for preventing eviction. In order for us to continue to provide as much help to as many people as possible, we are unable to issue awards unless the risk of eviction is imminent and evidenced. This ensures that are funds are allocated to those who are most vulnerable.
I'm sorry we can't be of any more help.
Alexander

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Hello Vicar's Relief Fund Team
I would like to thank you all for supporting our clients during this pandemic. My team applied for funds for few clients and the application was successful, two clients are able to buy a tablet, one was supported to pay off part of her arrears. The clients were happy and without this fund it wouldn't have been easy.
We know you are there and we can always ask for support for our clients.

Thanks so much
on behalf of St Mungos
Palace Road Team

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Hi Comfort,
Thank you very much for the feedback - we are pleased to read that you found our Emergency Fund useful for your clients and that we were able to make a difference.
Many thanks,
Alexander

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Hi All,
Alexander and I are here today to answer any of your questions related to the VRF. Ask away!
Best wishes,
Nat and Alexander

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Hi,

Again repeating what other people have said we have been very grateful for the support that the VRF emergency fund has given us especially during lockdown.

I had a question around requesting money for emergency accommodation. If we were to house a client on a Tuesday when the fund is closed, can we request, along with evidence of costs, for emergency accommodation costs from the Wednesday onwards? Obviously there is no guarantee we were to get the funding but in theory is this possible? It seems to be from looking at your FAQs.

Thanks,

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Hi James,
Good question! Yes, if you housed a client on the Tuesday in Emergency Accommodation and put an application in on the Wednesday - you could make a claim for costs to cover the emergency accommodation incurred from the Wednesday (not the Tuesday). Like you say, there are unfortunately no guarantees but yes, it is possible to request a grant for the scenario you describe. We would be unable to do this in the event that it was costs for a tenancy already accessed by a client as they have technically already secured the accommodation, but in the scenario you describe they have no security of tenure in the Emergency Accommodation and so we would consider this request. I hope that is helpful!

Best wishes,

Natalie

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