The Family Fund

Our mission

 Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. Last year, we provided 89,423 grants or services worth over £36 million to families across the UK.

We believe that all families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people should have the same opportunities as others. Beginning with the most vulnerable, those on low incomes, and considering all conditions against our disability criteria, we aim to make a difference to outcomes for disabled or seriously ill children and young people and the lives of the families raising them across the UK.

We provide grants for a wide range of items, such as washing machines, sensory toys, family breaks, bedding, tablets, furniture, outdoor play equipment, clothing and computers. It can be a struggle financially, emotionally and physically for families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, and these grants help break down many of the barriers families face, improving their quality of life and easing the additional daily pressures.

Family Fund was established in 1973 by the UK Government. 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 £3 million, with the possibility of a further similar sum later, to help families caring for a disabled child. This unexpected announcement was the result of a public campaign on behalf of children affected by Thalidomide.
The first grant of £26 for hospital visiting costs was issued on 1 April 1973. For over 20 years the Family Fund operated as part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation but in 1996 became an independent charitable trust.

Today, we are funded by the four UK governments, private donations and income we generate through the work of our trading arm, Family Fund Business Services. Over the 40+ years of our existence, we have helped with over a million grants for families.

We believe that our families face ever-present and substantial pressures in their lives. We believe that by providing grants we help relieve some of that pressure and provide vital time and space in families’ lives. We believe that this time and space helps strengthen the family unit to support parents in raising their children. We believe all children deserve the best possible opportunities and that, by providing these grants, we help extend the boundaries of what is possible.

 Who do we help?

We help families across the UK who are raising a disabled or seriously ill child or young person aged 17 or under. You can apply to Family Fund if:

  • You live in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales (Please note: If you are a family living in Wales, please visit our Wales application pages to apply.)
  • You are the parent or carer of a disabled or seriously ill child or young person aged 17 or under (read our disability criteria).
  • You have permanent legal residency in the UK and have lived in the UK for the last six months.
  • You have evidence of entitlement to one of the following: Universal Credit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit*, Employment Support Allowance*, Housing Benefit and Pension Credit.
  • If you do not receive any of the above, you can still apply, but we will need some extra information about your household income. Depending on what money you have coming into your home we may not be able to help as we have to prioritise helping those on lower incomes. If you are not in receipt of any of the above benefits, you will need to provide additional information and evidence of your whole household income and we will contact you after you have applied. If you would like to ask any questions or discuss it before you apply please do contact us.

*Please note: We may need to contact you for further information about your household income.

Why is there an income limit?

All our grants are discretionary and subject to available funding, so we may decline an application where a family has a significant level of capital or household income.

Where we are unable to help

We are unable to help children and young people in local authority care, including those living with foster carers. This is because local authorities have a general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of any child in its care, and to meet the needs of the child.

We are also unable to help with requests where a statutory agency (such as local authorities or health services) has a responsibility to provide the item needed.


“My child was eligible last time – will they always be eligible for help?”

We confirm whether a child meets our disability criteria each time an application is made.  Although children may meet our criteria initially, this may change over time due to medical intervention, medication, dietary or other management of their condition or as they get older.

“My child was not eligible for help before.  Can I apply again?“

Although a child may not meet our criteria and be eligible for help at first, this can change over time and they may well come within our criteria later on.  Or a child’s condition may have deteriorated since last time and you now feel they would meet our criteria.

Remember – If you are in doubt as to whether your child or young person would meet Family Fund’s criteria, please apply. When we receive your application, we will check that it meets all our eligibility criteria.

Apply for a grant.

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