Lives changed

Charity Link supports over 5,000 individuals and families each year in Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire.

We provide essential items on an individual need basis. Many of these items don’t cost a huge amount but the impact they can have on the people we help can be immense.

You can read about just a few of the people we have helped below. (Some names have been changed but all stories are true).

With your help we can help more local people in desperate need:

Fay (60) is a widower who lives in rented accommodation with her son and her seven year old grand-daughter. Fay was employed until an injury sustained at work left her with limited mobility and in constant pain. Her son is now her main carer and as such the family have an extremely limited income. This meant that when the family’s cooker broke they didn’t have the funds to buy a replacement. The family were facing Christmas with no way of enjoying a hot meal together. Fay burst into tears of happiness when our team told her that we were providing a new cooker and that she would have it in time for Christmas.

Brian, who is 56, desperately needed a new bed. He suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, arthritis and depression.  Despite his numerous challenges, Brian is keen to continue working and has a job as a part-time cleaner.  This provides a low weekly wage but, with only limited universal credit payments to help him cover his housing costs, he has no spare money after essential expenditure. Sleeping on the sofa has been exacerbating his arthritis and poor mental health and he was worried that this may prevent him from working in the future. With your support we provided Brian with a bed and bedding to help ensure he can get a comfortable night’s sleep which will help to improve his physical and mental well-being.

Zoe (36) suffers from depression and panic attacks after being in a long-term abusive relationship for which her ex-partner is serving a year in prison. With medical support, Zoe’s mental health was improving and she was beginning to feel secure in her home – until she was the victim of a burglary which has made her feel very vulnerable again.  During the burglary her cooker was destroyed by the intruders and, as she could not afford to replace it herself from her universal credit payments, she was left with no way to prepare a hot meal for herself. Thanks to your support, Zoe now has a new cooker – a small but vital part in helping her to feel at happy again in her home and to be able to take care of her physical and mental well-being.

Colin has an 85 year old wife, Trish, who had a stroke in 2013 and was left with right-sided weakness. She also now suffers from glaucoma and is now reliant upon Colin for support with daily tasks, although he himself is 87.  Colin was finding it increasingly difficult to push Trish in her manual wheelchair so she had become housebound and isolated. A powerpack would enable the couple to get back some quality time outside the home and help them to be part of their local community again – but their pension income wouldn’t cover the cost.  Thanks to you, we’ve been able to provide a wheelchair powerpack giving so many benefits, including improved health and emotional wellbeing, and increased personal dignity, respect and control. Thank you!

Susie has four children who have faced a chaotic start in life and are receiving support from a family support worker at school. The youngest three children, aged 11, 6 and 3, have been sleeping, together with their mum, on a king-sized mattress on a floor.  Susie’s 16 year old son has been sleeping on an extremely old, dirty and uncomfortable mattress. These inadequate sleeping arrangements have meant little rest for the family for some time. This has impacted on family relationships and the children’s ability to concentrate at school.  We were able to provide new beds and mattresses, helping everyone to get a decent night’s sleep – the first step towards a more settled and happy family life and ensuring the children can fulfil their potential at school.

Adam is 16 years old and estranged from his family due to a difficult relationship with his step-father who had recently physically assaulted him. He moved into supported housing but had with him only one small bag of clothes – no coat, his trainers had holes and he owned hardly any underwear. Adam was keen to start a college course to help make a future for himself, but his support worker felt that new clothing was essential to ensure that embarrassment about his appearance did not hold him back. We provided Adam with a £100 clothing voucher and he is now looking forward to furthering his education.

Anthony struggles with many health issues. He is paraplegic, has lung damage, fibromyalgia, incontinence, a hernia, oesophagus reflux and recurring pneumonia, along with breathing and chest problems which often require admittance to hospital.  After six years with an abusive partner (who was also his main carer) he reached breaking point and called the Samaritans for help. Anthony move to temporary accommodation before getting a council tenancy but, with limited income, Anthony had little money to furnish his new home. With your support you helped Anthony to receive a cooker and washing machine – essential items for his long-term health and well-being.

John had a traumatic year in 2017; he had a heart attack in the summer and then in the winter he was injured when he was attacked by a burglar in his flat. Both incidences deeply affected John; he stopped working as he struggled with severe depression and alcohol related issues, for which he sought help. As John gets his life back on track, he was delighted to gain and start a new job. However, as his Employment and Support Allowance stopped (and he has to wait a month to get his first monthly wage) he didn’t have the funds to continue to pay for his travel to work and he was worried he’d have to give up his new role: “Once I get my first salary I will achieve a degree of independence and things will start to improve” With your help, we have been able to provide John with a month travel pass and the means to maintain his employment.  His support work at the hostel where he has been saying said at the time: “Your efforts have made a huge difference in his self-esteem and confidence going forward.”

Karl was referred to us by an advice worker after he’d been forced to leave his now ex-partner’s house after he was badly assaulted by her son. He had been homeless for a couple of weeks and had then secured housing association property. He had started a low paid part time job but he had to work a month in hand before he was paid, which was another two weeks away. He was therefore moving into his flat with no money and no furniture.  We were able to provide a bed to help him start setting up his new home, along with a vouchers for food, a grant for utilities and vouchers for bedding and other household essentials.

Sophie (29) is a lone parent referred by her family housing support worker. She was affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and had a number of health issues, including sciatica. These meant Sophie was unable to work and also struggled to get out and about. Her younger daughter was about to start school and her elder daughter was moving up to key stage two at school where more equipment was needed and, in receipt of limited benefits, Sophie couldn’t afford the items her daughters needed, which was causing her a lot of stress. Thanks to your support we were able to provide vouchers for Sophie to get the uniforms and school equipment her daughters needed – and a huge amount of worry was lifted.

Matthew (23) was told to leave his mum’s home when he was only 13 years old. He moved into his dad’s, but his step-mum told him to leave when he turned 16. Since then he has been estranged from both parents and homeless; during the past eight months he has been sleeping in his friend’s shed. Matthew gets by working ad-hoc for cash in hand. Mathew is now moving to his first proper home in five years and we’ve provided a bed, bedding and a fridge so he can really make a home.

Fay is a mum of three.  When her marriage broke down, life changed dramatically for her and the children (aged 7, 12 and 13). Fay’s husband was serving in the British Armed Forces and the family had been living in Service Quarters. As the marriage ended, the family had to find alternative accommodation and Fay was doing all she could to help the children to cope during what was an extremely difficult time. Fay was working two jobs but struggling to pay for the school uniforms needed by the children and this was causing added stress; she was desperate to help the children settle into school quickly as they started to rebuild their lives.  Fay was referred to us for help and we were able to provide £250 in vouchers for the school-wear needed.

Carl (62) has struggled to look after himself or his accommodation over recent years and is now in poor health. He hasn’t had gas at his home for 20 years (and due to anxiety is unable to let people in to assist) so there are issues with damp and mould. This has also affected his clothes and with no washing machine or hot water, Carl has been boiling water on the stove. Carl’s advocate believes that he is affected by a range of un-diagnosed health mental health conditions, including an eating disorder, and is working to ensure that he gets the support he needs. Carl desperately needed basic household essentials to improve his quality of life and his self-esteem.  Thanks to your support we were able to provide Carl with a new washing machine, a fridge and a clothing grant so that he can replace his worn shoes, socks and other items. It is hoped that with support, Carl can feel more able to take care of his needs – and possibly rekindle old hobbies, such as fishing.

Kyla and Isla, ten year old twins, received new school uniforms to start their new school thanks to your support. Their mum, Kerry, had experienced domestic violence so severe her ex-partner was jailed for 15 years. Kerry still suffers from the after effects and is supported by her eldest daughter, 13 year old Molly. Kerry worked up until last year as a temporary retail assistant, but has been finding it hard to cope financially paying rent on a privately rented flat, bills and food. The family have been relying on food parcels and now the girls desperately needed new school uniforms but Kerry just didn’t have the money. Kyla and Isla can now attend their new school without feeling self-conscious, enabling the girls to settle in and start making new friends.

Stacey (24) was referred to us by her athletics coach, seeking assistance towards the cost of a lightweight manual wheelchair. Stacey has cerebral palsy and a number of other health conditions and is wheelchair dependent.  Overcoming many challenges, Stacey has become a very talented athlete, representing Great Britain at the Anniversary Games in 2015 and 2016. A standard NHS wheelchair was not providing the support that she required, which was then leading to injury and hampering her progression as an athlete. Stacey was unable afford the cost of the lightweight wheelchair her coach and physiotherapist recommended to improve her quality of life and future career. We were able to untap £6,375 from charitable trusts to enable Stacey to purchase the wheelchair she needed, which she says is a real joy: “The right equipment is everything to a person’s active independence. I now have a greater sense of freedom”.

Alex (34) was referred by his occupational therapist at LOROS hospice. He and his partner were looking forward to the birth of their first child when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. The couple had moved their bed downstairs as Alex was having frequent falls and could no longer climb the stairs.  Alex’s condition has continued to accelerate quickly since his diagnosis and he is now wheelchair bound.  The couple were desperate to stay sleeping in the same bed but Alex now needed a specialist and expensive profiling bed (due to being over 6ft a standard hospital bed wasn’t suitable) which the family could not afford. Charity Link was able to untap £3,622 of funding to help ensure that Alex and his partner can stay in the same bed and be comfortable throughout his anticipated deterioration and as his needs change.  We were also able to provide a grant of £1,500 towards the cost of a wheelchair accessible vehicle – essential in helping Alex to access the support he needs more easily and enabling him to enjoy time with his family outside the home.

Lucy was a self-employed administrator but has been unable to work since her baby was born and diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Molly is currently undergoing treatment and Lucy needs to visit the hospital regularly and give medication on a daily basis, meaning that it is unlikely she will be able to return to work for some time. Lucy has been struggling financially and her older children have recently been placed in detention at school for not having the correct uniform or equipment, which Lucy has been finding very hard; “I feel they are being punished for suffering financial hardship and because of the illness their sister suffers from. Amongst everything else we are going through I feel I had let my children down and made them vulnerable to be the victims of poverty and I constantly worry, making my depression deeper. Lucy asked for help to stop her children being singled out and to stop “people looking down on me or my children.” We were able to provide £225 for new school uniforms and equipment, helping to reduce some of the financial stress and worry the family were experiencing, and helping the children to reach their full potential at school.

Aalia and her four children (the youngest aged six) found themselves homeless when their landlord evicted them at short notice to sell the property. Staying in a hostel for some time, Aalia worked part time as a cleaner and casually as a carer for a friend’s disabled children. She was in receipt of limited benefits and her income was very low. Their previous accommodation was furnished and they had left only with their clothing. The family were moving forward with their lives and had a new property to go to, but this was unfurnished and Aalia had no way to provide the essential items needed to it a home. With your support we were able to provide over £600 worth of items, including a cooker, fridge and household goods, such as bedding, to help the family get back on their feet and ensure they could move forward with their lives.

Amanda had a diagnosed learning disability, restricted mobility due to a curvature of the spine and hearing loss. Despite her challenges, Amanda was living life to full, independently, in her first floor flat. Amanda was then ‘befriended’ by a couple. Once they had become ‘friends’ with Amanda they began to move themselves, along with their possessions, into her flat over a period of time. Once they had moved in they began to subject Amanda to verbal and physical abuse, which drove her to leave her own home. As she had nowhere to go, she slept on the streets. The police were informed and assisted the removal of the perpetrators from Amanda’s home. However they left her home dirty and in a terrible state. The majority of her possessions were either broken or had been stolen.This experience has had a devastating impact on Amanda, who returned to a home that had been invaded and destroyed. She relied on disability living allowance and simply did not have the means to replace the items that had been broken or taken, items she desperately needed. We helped immediately and provided Amanda with Wilkinson’s and Argos vouchers to replace her kitchen items. We also provided Amanda with a brand new mattress, vitally needed due to her mobility issues. Your support has had a huge impact and Amanda has been able to start rebuilding her life.

Ben (14) who lives at home with his parents, has severe cerebral palsy which affects both sides of his brain. He has no movement in his limbs, is nonverbal and his only method of communication is by using his eyes. Ben is a happy boy, when not in pain, and enjoys having his family around him, watching films, water therapy and days out. However, Ben gets very frustrated when he can’t make himself understood. At the special school that he attends, he had been using Eye Gaze technology with communication software. His communication teacher said that he really enjoyed using the equipment, made choices, responded and had shown great improvement in the early areas of language. Unfortunately, Ben only had limited time using the technology at school as it was shared with other children. His family and teachers believed that being able to access the equipment at home would have a huge impact on his education, independence and confidence, as well as his general health and well being. The cost of the Dynavox EyeMobile Mini system with software was £5,200 including life long support. Ben did not meet the criteria to receive funding from the NHS or education services and although his dad worked, Ben’s mum was his full-time carer, the family simply did not have the funds to purchase such an expensive piece of equipment. With your support we raised £5,200 from internal and external charitable trusts to cover the full cost of the technology, which will have a profound impact on Ben’s everyday life for years to come.

Mark , who had a physical disability, lost his job and struggled to cope. Mark then experienced a period of homelessness. With support he had started to get his life back on track and had secured a new property for his family so they could start to re-build their lives. Whilst Mark was able to acquire some of the essentials needed for his family, his limited funds could not stretch to purchase a cooker to prepare hot meals, and a washing machine to wash his daughters’ clothes. With your support we raised £511 from internal and external charitable trusts to purchase a gas cooker and a washing machine. The family can now start building a new home after a difficult and unsettling time: “I wish to thank you all for helping my children and I. We are now in receipt of a new cooker and washing machine, both of which will contribute greatly in helping us all settle in to the new home that we are now making for ourselves. Now this Christmas can be spent together, making our own memories, as we prepare our own Christmas meal, in our own home, on the cooker Charity Link provided. So many thanks again, greatly indebted.”

Mary (78) had lived alone for some years following the death of her husband. Many household items were in need of replacement – including her cooker meaning she’d not eaten a hot meal for weeks – but living on a state pension she didn’t have the funds. Charity Link bought a cooker and other items to enable Mary to stay in her home.

Katie and Izzy
are still traumatised by their mum’s injuries from an unprovoked attack and home burglary. They have moved away from home, with their mum, to make a fresh start – leaving family, friends and school behind. Their mum bought a cooker so they could eat properly, but her money ran out and she couldn’t afford to buy beds for the girls. With your help we provided beds for Katie and Izzy.

Helen and her daughter, Amy, were made homeless after Helen fled a violent and controlling relationship. They were residing in temporary accommodation at a local hostel and desperately needed help. Helen had to leave her job as a carer when the violence increased to the extent that she was unable to work. Her employer had reassured Helen that she could return as soon as she was back on her feet. She tried to keep as much normality as possible for Amy who was severely traumatised by the events, by ensuring that Amy could attend the same school and be around the friends and teachers that she knew. In order to do this they were travelling significant distances across the city. Helen had applied for Income Support and Child Tax Credits to keep her afloat during this difficult time. She was still waiting on a decision, which left her with £20.50 in Child Benefit. The hostel was self-catering and Helen could not afford to buy food and afford the travelling costs to school. Without family support, Helen had no-one to turn to for financial help. Helen’s Family Support Worker, who was supporting the family with advice, advocacy and guidance, referred Helen to Charity Link. We were able to provide help with travel costs and help with food at this time of upheaval whilst Helen’s benefits were approved and she started to get back on her feet.

Sally and Nigel were referred for support. Sally is receiving medical support for her severe anxiety and depression. At present her condition makes it extremely difficult for her to leave the house or meet new people (or even walk her children to school) which leaves her husband, Nigel, to take on much of the care for their three children, all under 8 years, and the day to day running of the home, but he is under a lot of pressure and sometimes struggles to cope. When the family’s old washing machine broke they didn’t have the funds to replace it and they were faced with washing clothes in the bathtub. This proved very arduous and left the parents feeling worried that their children may be bullied due to not having their clothes properly cleaned. Whilst Nigel had tried visited the laundrette, this proved prohibitively expensive and difficult as he needed to be at home to care for the children. Charity Link was able to help with a washing machine to make family life that much easier.

Harpinder (18) had to be placed in to foster care at a young age and at 16 she moved to live in a hostel whilst she completed her full time course at college.  During this time Harpinder experienced feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. After a two year wait, Harpinder gained an independent tenancy, but she couldn’t move in without a cooker and she couldn’t afford to buy one as she had just started an apprenticeship. We were able to provide a cooker for Harpinder’s first home: “It feels really good and such a relief as I didn’t know how I was going to buy a cooker. I’m excited as the future is good!”.

Molly and her mum were referred to us in desperate need. Their home was infested with mice, they had problems with damp which had caused mould throughout their home, this had now spread to their beds. They were trying to get the Council to sort out the problem but in the meantime they were both forced to sleep on the settee each night. Many of their items have had to be thrown away. Molly’s mum has no means to buy new beds. So we bought two beds, just £240 made a difference.

Rose and Alan had worked hard all their lives but now in their 70s and 80s were now struggling living on their state pension. Rose has a number of health problems, including arthritis, but despite this was caring for her terminally ill husband who has prostate cancer and is also blind. The couple had been living off sandwiches as they could not afford a new cooker, and after a spell in hospital, Rose was devastated that she couldn’t cook nutritious food for him or prepare his favourite meals in the time he had left. Thanks to your support we were able to provide a cooker for the couple to help them enjoy their remaining time together.

Lily (94) still enjoyed life to the full, but her health had deteriorated significantly over the last five years. Lily suffers from arthritis in her knees and legs and could no longer manage to walk up and down the stairs in her home. Consequently she was sleeping downstairs and used a commode as she couldn’t access her bedroom or bathroom. Despite working in the hosiery trade until she was 74, Lily didn’t have any savings to purchase a stair lift, she only just managed to survive on a state pension and pension credits. All Lily wanted was to stay in her own home independently, but without a stair lift she would have had to move into residential care. We helped immediately and raised £1,500 to purchase the stair lift that she so desperately needed. Lily can now stay in her own home independently, surrounded by the things she loves.

Shelley lives with cerebral palsy and although severely disabled she lives independently. She was referred to us when her specialist wheelchair needed to be replaced. Her deteriorating health also meant that she urgently needed a specialist eye-controlled communication computer. Neither of these items could be provided by the NHS. We raised over £20,000 to purchase the equipment Shelley needed.

Stacey was looked after by grandmother Margaret since her mum died shortly after she was born. Margaret is doing all she can to be a mother to her grandaughter but she is disabled and finds it difficult to get about. Margaret can’t work and the family survive on disability and child benefits. Stacey’s bed was broken so she was sleeping on the floor as Margaret couldn’t afford to buy a new one. So we bought a bed and bedding, just £165 made a difference.

David was homeless. In February 2009 David was homeless sleeping in a church crypt during the heaviest snow storms that Leicestershire had seen in a number of years. There were no hostel places available for David; he had no income and had not eaten for three days. We acted immediately and gave David £80 worth of food vouchers. David desperately wanted a home of his own and a job. We made some calls and negotiated with a private landlord to rent an empty flat to David and provided £100 for a rent bond. We also gave David £30 so he could buy a suit and arranged for work experience at a voluntary organisation. Just £210 got David off the street and back into work.

Robin was trying to start again. Robin had been through a very difficult time and has recently been discharged from Bradgate Mental Health Unit. He was trying to put his life back together and had just moved into his first home since leaving the Unit. Robin had lost all his belongings, he had no furniture, bed or cooker. He was extremely vulnerable and desperately trying to cope in the outside world. Robin’s only income came from Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance and he simply could not afford to furnish his new home. We helped immediately and bought a bed and cooker for Robin, and he is now starting to rebuild his life.

Sarah was struggling with Multiple Sclerosis. Sarah and her two children received the news that frightened them most, Sarah was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Sarah had brought up her two children on her own, since their father left, and was forced to give up work due to the worsening nature of her Multiple Sclerosis. Sarah is now wheelchair bound with limited mobility. Social
Services had adapted her home and created a bedroom and bathroom downstairs, but her bedroom was unfurnished and Sarah could not afford to carpet the new rooms. We helped and bought Sarah a new bed and carpets. This has meant the world to Sarah and her children.

David did everything he could to gain custody of his three daughters when his marriage broke down. The girls were being neglected by their mother and were at risk of being placed into care. But they could not live with David until he had arranged suitable accommodation as at that time he was living in a bedsit. He gained suitable council property but it was unfurnished and the family could not be reunited until the home was properly furnished. The family were in a desperate state. David had recently lost his job and he simply could not afford to furnish their new home on his weekly Job Seekers Allowance of £65.45. A Community Care Grant helped meet only some of their needs. We helped immediately and provided the family with four beds, a cooker, clothes for the girls and £100 worth of High Street Gift Vouchers to buy the household goods that they desperately needed. These items meant that the girls could be together with their father, safe in their new home.

Rina and Zach were desperate to escape the violence and threats they had experienced from Rina’s husband. Rina had been held hostage in her home and regularly beaten. A family member saw their plight and intervened so they could get away. Over a six month period they had moved three times to protect themselves. Rina had been unable to go to work because of her injuries and was trying to survive on statutory sick pay. Rina and Zach found a safe place to live, but they had no furniture, beds, cooker or any household goods. Women’s Aid referred Rina and Zach to us for help. We acted immediately and raised over £700 to purchase Rina and Zach the items that they desperately needed for their new home.

Reema was only 17 years old when she was forced to leave her family home where she was being physically abused. She left with no belongings, no money, she didn’t even have time to grab a coat. Reema is now living in a young person’s hostel and was referred to Leicester Charity Link by her Support Worker in November. Despite her circumstances, Reema was determined to continue with her A-Levels and read Pharmaceutical Chemistry at University. She had to leave the hostel at 7.30am each day to catch two buses, and was travelling in the cold, wearing only thin summer clothes, no coat and worn summer sandals. Once Reema had paid her rent she was left with only £16.80 to live off to buy food and toiletries. She had just started to receive Educational Maintenance Allowance but this only just covered the cost of her school books and equipment. She tried saving but this meant going without food.

We helped immediately and provided Reema with £100 worth of High Street vouchers to buy some new clothes.We also provided Reema with £1,500 through The Alderman Newton’s Educational Foundation so that she could continue with her studies.


Supporting community projects

TwentyTwenty is a local charity dedicated to helping disadvantaged, disengaged, and extremely hard-to-reach young people aged 11-24 to succeed in education, thrive in their personal lives, and achieve long term employment.

TwentyTwenty runs Lifeskills Centres in Loughborough and in Leicester City.  Each centre provides a range of accredited educational courses, skill building activities, employability training, work experience, supported pathways to apprenticeships/jobs/further education, counselling programmes, and intensive mentoring.

Many of the young people who use the Lifeskills Centres live in difficult or deprived circumstances, and often arrive at the Centres without having had breakfast.  TwentyTwenty applied to the R Daphne Plunket Charitable Trust to provide breakfast for young people using their Leicester Centre in 2015.

R Daphne Plunket Charitable Trust made a grant of £600 to ensure that vulnerable young people using TwentyTwenty’s Leicester Lifeskills Centre could start their day with a decent breakfast.

R Daphne Plunket Charitable Trust is managed by Charity Link.  We provide everything the Trust needs to ensure that its original objectives – to relieve people living in Leicestershire or Rutland who are in financial need, hardship or distress – can continue to be fulfilled.  Please visit our Trust and Grant Administration page for more information.