In 1973, we set out on our journey to improve the lives of families raising a disabled or seriously ill child or young person, on a low income.
How we began
Our journey started in 1973. Fifty plus years, and more than one and a half million grants later, we are still providing vital support to families raising a disabled child.
On 29 November 1972, Sir Keith Joseph, Secretary of State for Health and Social Services, told the House of Commons that the government intended to provide £3million to help families caring for a disabled child. This was the result of a public campaign, on behalf of children affected by thalidomide.
This investment started Family Fund’s work. Originally established in 1973 as part of Joseph Rowntree Foundation in York, we became an independent charity in 1996. We are now established as the UK’s largest charity providing grants to families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.
Our history highlights
On 1 April our first grant was issued – a cheque for £26 that enabled a father to travel from Wales to London to visit his young daughter in hospital. Family Fund begins operating, for 20 years, as part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The Government and Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust confirm Family Fund’s continuation.
We receive our first word processor and begin electronic family records.
Our first family research project ‘Taking care’ is published, mapping 10 families’ intense care responsibilities.
We become an independent grant making charitable trust to support the increasing needs of families on a low income raising a disabled or seriously ill child under 18 across England.
We receive grant funding from all devolved governments to reach more families and, soon, the grants we were able to offer diversified too.
The very first family application is submitted online.
We launch two new grant programmes to support siblings of a disabled child, and Take a Break – giving families short breaks.
We launch new information, advice and wider support services on issues including benefits, finances and education, to better meet families’ needs. In 2017 our partnership with Marian Elizabeth Trust is also launched, supporting children with profound learning disabilities.
Your Opportunity grant programme begins. Designed to support young disabled or seriously ill adults living at home, aged 18-24-years-old, it offers tailored grant items to realise their ambitions – from learning resources to driving lessons. In 2018 we also launch our new partnership with Motability to provide lease cars for families raising disabled children.
In 2021 we are thrilled to launch our supported internship scheme with the Blueberry Academy, increasing employment opportunities for young disabled people. 2021 is also the year we launch our partnership with McCain, with our first primetime TV adverts starring two families supported by Family Fund.
Here and now
Despite much progress, many of the same challenges that families faced in 1973 still exist for families today, heightened by additional cost-of-living pressures and greatly reduced support services, following the pandemic. Many parents and carers have growing debt.
Families are now at breaking point trying to keep household budgets afloat to care for their children.
Could you help us be there for the increased numbers of families coming to us for support?Help us support families raising a disabled child
The next chapter
Our strategy for 2023 to 2028 focuses on ‘being there’ for families, when they need us most – as we have done throughout our last fifty years. The key themes of the strategy are to:
- Deliver essential help to families.
- Grow our support – to do more, for more families.
- Partner with families and others, to create positive change.
- Enable our team to work at their best.