If you have a loved one with a severe learning disability life can be extremely challenging for all manner of reasons. In many circumstances, you or other family members may have had to give up your jobs to look after someone with a disability, and this can result not only in a lower household income, but a degree of isolation too. If you need some financial help to fund everyday activities, one-off excursions or even helping someone with a learning disability into education, there are a number of organisations and benefits that could help.
The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund
The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund normally offers one-off grants for voluntary organisations working with people who have severe learning difficulties. Applications are open to projects trying to building core funding, or who might be fundraising for a specific project. Grants offered are from £250 upwards, and though the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund normally offers a single grant, projects might be funded for consecutive years to help with long-term goals.
The Fund works with projects like daily social activities, employment schemes, independent living schemes, hydro-therapy and swimming pools, support for families, community schemes and core fund building for nursing, residential, schools and respite care.
Forbes Charitable Foundation
Another organisation who supports those with learning difficulties is the Forbes Charitable Foundation. Again, this group normally offers financial aid to small and medium sized organisations who need funding to pay for IT equipment, furniture and fittings, new buildings, refurbishment or vehicles to be used for adults with learning difficulties. However, the foundation also offers limited revenue grants that can help with employment training and short holidays too. Grants are usually under £5,000.
Follow your Dreams
If you want to help a loved one who has a learning difficulty reach their potential, Follow your Dreams might be the ideal charity to help. Instead of a grant application form, teachers, family members or friends of the person with learning difficulties are asked to nominate the individual for an award. Grant money can be used to develop and explore someone’s potential in areas such as art, music, drama, sport or information and communications technology (ICT).
Government Benefits – Disabled Students’ Allowances
As part of the government’s benefit system, the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) can provide financial support for those wanting to go into education. Adult learning grants are offered to those with mental health problems, long-term health conditions or specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Applications are assessed on someone’s needs and not their income, so you can be sure you’re getting the right help and don’t have to worry about household income ruining any chances of a grant.
DSAs and learning grants are paid on top of other student finance so those with disabilities can pay for the extra help they need. The following list outlines the payments that students could expect to receive.
- Full-time Student – Up to £5,212 for specialist equipment to cover the entire course, and a general allowance of up to £1,741 per year. A non-medical helper allowance can also be awarded up to the maximum of £20,725 per year.
- Part-time Student – Up to £5,212 for specialist equipment for the entire course and a general allowance of up to £1,305 per year. Non-medical helper allowances are up to £15,543 each year.
- Postgraduates – Those climbing even higher in further education can apply for a single payment of £10,362 per year.
DSAs can pay for specialist equipment like computers, for example, if they’re needed to support a disability. Computers can be bought or upgraded if they don’t meet the demands of a disability, and students need to pay the first £200 from private funds. Extra travel costs can also be paid for, as can non-medical helpers.
Once eligibility for a DSA has been confirmed, a ‘needs assessment’ will be conducted. This will be initiated by Student Finance England, and paid for through any DSA entitlement due to be awarded. It’s essential not to buy any equipment before the assessment as reimbursements are not given. Once a DSA has been received, items, such as computers, can then be bought from these funds if they’re not provided via a third party.
The Importance of Seeking Help
Across the country, there are thousands of people with learning difficulties, many of whom may be struggling without realising there is financial support available to them. There are a wide array of grants for children with learning disabilities available, allowing families to enjoy short-term holidays and organisations to develop new projects to support disabled people. There are also funds for adults who don’t want to let learning difficulties hold them back and are keen to enter education or go to work.
Seeking out this help is essential as it can offer families and individuals across the UK a sense of freedom and independence they might not have enjoyed before. And with the variety of organisation offering help, there is bound to be one that suits your needs.