As part of a series of blogs in response to the Commission’s Coronavirus report Ems Harrington, Edinburgh Trust Manager, reflects on the increased need for the Trust due to the impacts of Covid 19.

In 2011, The Edinburgh Trust, part of national charity Turn2us, began providing financial assistance and support for people in need in the City of Edinburgh after winning a tender to manage historical funds for individuals from Edinburgh City Council. Over the years we have helped thousands of people struggling financially through our grants.  At this exceptional time of Covid-19, we have increased our grant giving using both the historical funds and additional funds raised by Turn2us to assist those who have lost their income.

Whilst most people who come to us are already living on low incomes, it was important for us to reach people who may previously not have fit our eligibility criteria; mainly people who had suddenly lost their jobs or had their earnings reduced. Many people contacted us who had been made redundant or who still had their job but hadn’t been furloughed so were not receiving any payments. We created the Edinburgh Trust Response Covid-19 fund to award grants to those people without savings and to offer support to those who had no other sources of financial support at all.

“When Covid-19 spread in the UK, I had just started a new job in Tourism doing something I really enjoyed, after months of searching for employment. As a new starter, I was made redundant, did not qualify for the furlough government scheme and was rejected by Universal Credit. I, like many others, fell through the gaps. Amid a global pandemic, I had to also face financial distress. It felt as if months of effort were wasted, just to be back to square one.”

We also saw an increased need for people already on a low income who were experiencing an increase in their living costs due to being in lockdown, particularly with children at home. This was mainly food costs and energy bills. We had requests for grants for phones and laptops for home schooling and for connection to reduce social isolation. Although we did see an increase in needs relating to Covid-19, for people struggling financially in Edinburgh, some things did not change. Washing machines still broke, clothing was still needed and carpets still needed to be replaced meaning grants were requested for these things too.

“Due to the Covid 19 both my autistic boys were obviously very distressed (as was I). I couldn’t get to a shop so had to order takeaway’s often. My youngest was peeing all over the house, my hall carpet and his carpet was ruined. Not only did the grant help to get a carpet cleaner, new carpet for him, washing machine fixed and was able to purchase toys to keep them entertained.”

From March to June we saw over 76,000 people in Scotland use the Turn2us benefits calculator with almost 7,500 of those people living in Edinburgh. 2,000 people in the city used our grants search tool too. From the beginning of lockdown until now we have awarded over £152,700 in grants for people living in Edinburgh.

The financial upheaval and worry has been a burden so many have had to carry in an already exceptionally difficult time. Losing jobs, having earnings reduced, not having enough money for food and struggling to pay rent has been an incredible strain on Edinburgh residents. Our funds remain open for those who are eligible and we would encourage applications for those in need. You can find more information using the below details.

Ph: 0131 243 2796 (voicemails are checked daily)