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FAQ

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Who do you help?

The VRF provides crisis grants for people who are:

- currently homeless or 

- in imminent danger of becoming homeless

Applications should only be made to us as a last resort. The VRF has a strict daily budget that is oversubscribed. As it is a crisis fund, we will only approve applications where a grant will alleviate or prevent homelessness or assist those that are vulnerably housed. We do not make grants to simply reduce financial burden.

I’m homeless, can I apply for a grant?

We do not accept applications from members of the public. If you need a grant yourself, you will need to approach a support service (eg. a homelessness charity or the CAB) and ask them to apply for you. We are not caseworkers and unfortunately cannot provide casework support ourselves. 

What advice do you offer?

We do not offer advice on housing or homelessness. 

We provide grants and our phone line is to answer queries only from frontline workers about the VRF grant programme - registration, application, and the payments process. 

Who can apply?

We only accept applications from paid frontline workers providing support to people who are experiencing homelessness or vulnerable housing.

A frontline worker includes staff working in the Voluntary, Statutory and Public Sectors undertaking diverse roles including Resettlement or Outreach Workers, Supported Housing Officers, Mental Health Teams, Drug and Alcohol Support, GP’s, Probation, Social Workers, Prison In-Reach Workers, Police, Nurses, other Health professionals.

Why can't people apply for a grant directly themselves?

By issuing the funds through frontline organisations and landlords, we can maintain a secure point of contact, receive receipts and ensure grants are spent as intended to help the people who need it most.

Does the charity support people who are homeless and vulnerably housed outside of London?

Yes, we provide grants UK-wide.

Do clients have to be a UK/EU national?

No, though they have to be living in the UK and accessing accommodation in the UK.

Why can’t we apply for a grant before notice of eviction is given?

We are not able to give grants simply to clear arrears - we can only give a grant where there is a threat of eviction and so need to know that a formal eviction process has been started. This could be evidenced by an email or a letter from the landlord.

What do you fund?

A deposit, rent in advance, admin fees, ID, or temporary B+B accommodation – where it will help someone access accommodation. When we have awarded a grant to access accommodation we can also fund moving costs.
Rent arrears (including a debt relief order and bankruptcy fees), service charge arrears, or money to pay for a hoarding clean up – where it will prevent eviction.

How much can I apply for?

£350 is the maximum total amount we will issue to any one client in a 12 month period. This can consist of more than one grant. 

We will pay up to:

£350 for deposits and rent in advance including temporary stay at a B&B
£100 for admin fees (letting agency fees)
£350 for rent and service charge arrears or a DRO/bankruptcy fee to prevent eviction. Formal notice of eviction must have been issued. 
£90 for ID - three types of photo ID (citizen card, passport, and provisional driving licence) and one type of non-photo ID (birth certificate) to enable clients to access accommodation.
 

Do you give grants for household goods?

We are currently not able to award setting up home grants, but we suggest checking http://www.glasspool.org.uk/grants/grants and the grants database at: https://www.turn2us.org.uk

This grant will be reviewed in September 2018 and this FAQ will be updated if the grant fund is reopened at that time. Please do not contact us in the meantime.

Why do you have a £350 limit?

The demand on our service means that we can’t afford to fund all applications received (we receive around 35 applications a day). The £350 limit means we can afford to deliver the impact of a small grant for many people, rather than using our budget on only a few individuals. The amount was updated from £250 in 2016 to reflect the changes in inflation and ensure that the awards had the same impact as previous years.

What if more than £350 is needed?

If a grant is to be used as part of a bigger package of support then please do not make an application until you have received a response from other funding sources you may have approached, eg. when an application for Discretionary Housing Payment is still open.

Do you help with private tenancies?

Yes, we do provide deposits and rent in advance to help your client access a private tenancy.

Do you help with debt relief orders/bankruptcy?

We can consider applications for debt relief order or bankruptcy fees where this would help someone access housing or prevent eviction.

We can make payments to the supporting organisation or directly to the accountant in bankruptcy or to the Insolvency Service.

Do you help with moving costs?

Yes, we will pay up to £350 for moving costs. Please note we can only pay this to the removal firm or to the support agency. 

Do you help with hoarding/decluttering?

Yes if it would prevent eviction.

How do I make an application?

We only accept applications through our online system Flexi-Grant. Go to https://smitf.flexigrant.com and follow the link to ‘register as a user’. Registration involves 3 steps:

  1. Provide your email address
  2. Confirm your email address (you will receive an email prompting you to do this – it may go into your spam folder so check there)
  3. Log in at https://smitf.flexigrant.com/login.aspx with your confirmed email address, select ‘Application Portal’ at the top left of the screen. Select the ‘New User Registration Form’ and fill in this form. This is NOT the grant application form.
  4. Wait 5 working days for us to process your registration form. We will email you with our decision.

 

Once you have completed this registration process, you can again log in to https://smitf.flexigrant.com/login.aspx and fill in a grant application form.

What documentation is needed to support the application?

All applications must include a signed client consent form.
Applications to clear a client’s rent arrears must include an official written notice of eviction/ termination of a license.

Applications to prevent eviction must include evidence that the grant will prevent the eviction from going ahead.

Applications for access to accommodation must include the address that the client is planning to move into.

When will I hear back from you?

Please allow five working days for your application to receive a response. We ask that you do not contact us within this time. The VRF is heavily oversubscribed and to ensure we treat all applications fairly, we do not respond to requests for an application to be fast-tracked.

Once the application is submitted, we are only able to discuss the application with the frontline worker submitting it and the manager named on the application. If you are about to go on annual leave or you know that you will not be available within this timeframe, please do not make an application. If you have a colleague that will be taking over in your absence, then they will need to have their own separate account to be able to make a referral on behalf of your client.

Why was my application unsuccessful?

The VRF is heavily oversubscribed and our team is small so unfortunately we don’t have the time and resources to give feedback about unsuccessful applications.

The most common reasons applications are unsuccessful are:

  • The client is ineligible eg. they are not homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • The application was made for support that VRF doesn’t offer eg. to reduce arrears or for household goods
  • Evidence was not provided eg. that the person is at risk of eviction
  • Evidence was not provided eg. that the grant will remove the risk of eviction
  • Evidence was not provided eg. that the client will be rehoused within two months (after clearing arrears to access social housing)
  • The consent form was not complete or not uploaded to the application
  • You did not use a VRF consent form
  • The case for support has not been made in the application. We need more than two sentences with general statements about the situation. You should explain what the need for the grant is, how it meets our eligibility criteria and how they will be able to avoid housing vulnerability in the future. 
  • The application is badly presented eg the client’s name is misspelled, irrelevant documents have been attached or other mistakes that may suggest the service may not provide the support the client will need for a successful tenancy.
  • The application was strong but other applications were stronger or would address more acute needs.

Unfortunately, even strong applications will be turned down from time to time.

What does it mean if my grant is at "Current Stage: Offer"?

In Flexigrant, if the status of your application is at "Current Stage: Offer" this means that your application has been successful and is waiting to be processed.

Please do not contact us during this time unless it has been more than 5 working days since you submitted your application. You will receive an email once the grant has been processed.

Can you pay clients directly?

We can make BACS payments to organisations or landlords or make cheques out to Government agencies.

We were awarded a grant for a particular property, but due to a change of circumstances would like to use it for a different property. Is that allowed?

Yes.

I’m looking for help not covered by VRF’s grants

We recommend the Turn2Us database of grants for individuals - https://www.turn2us.org.uk/

For white goods, we recommend Glasspool Charity - http://www.glasspool.org.uk/

Does the grant have to be paid back to the VRF?

No. It is a grant not a loan. 

What evidence should I send you after the VRF grant has been awarded?

Once the funds have been spent, you must provide documentary evidence to the VRF that the funds have been used as set out in your application.

See this page for full details on what evidence we need and how to submit it to us - Uploading Evidence

 

How can I contact you?

We are a small team, so before contacting us, ensure you have read through these FAQs carefully.  

You can email us on vrf@stmartinscharity.org.uk

You can call us on 020 7766 1125. Our telephone opening hours are Monday to Friday from 1pm until 4pm. 

We can only accept calls and emails from frontline workers enquiring about our grants programme, not from members of the general public. 

The Vicar's Relief Fund is closed on the last Thursday of every Month.

You can write to us at:

The Vicar's Relief Fund
5 St Martin's Place
St Martin-in-the-Fields
Trafalgar Square
London
WC2N 4JH

Why is my account suspended?

As stated in our terms and conditions, by accepting a VRF grant you agree to provide us with evidence of how the grant was spent. See this link for details of what evidence is required. If you are late submitting evidence without agreeing this with us first, or if there are queries about the evidence submitted, your account will be suspended. While suspended, you will not be able to apply for a VRF grant. You will be able to upload evidence whilst suspended, but unable to start or finish any applications.

When will my suspended account be reactivated?

Once acceptable evidence has been submitted, we will email you to let you know your account has been reactivated.