1. About VRF
1A. How can I contact you?
You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Our number for voicemail only is 020 3795 5746
You can write to us at:
The Vicar's Relief Fund
5 St Martin's Place
Please note that we are a small team, so before contacting us please make sure you have read the instructions we provide on the application form itself and / or looked at the Help Page and these FAQs for further guidance.
1B. 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, applications, and payments.
2. About our grants
2A. What is your policy on grant funding?
Before submitting a grant application, please read our Grant Making Policy in full.
2B. What do you fund?
We give grants to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to access accommodation or to prevent eviction. Examples of these categories are below:
- Accessing Accommodation: A deposit, rent in advance, ID, removal costs, or temporary B+B accommodation.
- Preventing Eviction: Rent arrears, service charge arrears, debt relief order or bankruptcy fees.
2C. How much can I apply for?
We will consider paying up to:
£350 for Preventing Eviction grants.
£500 for Accessing Accommodation grants.
If you are asking for more than this amount, you must make clear in your application how your client has exceptional circumstances.
You can apply for more than one grant for the same client. However, the maximum amount we can award to any one client in any 12-month period is £500. The 12-month period is calculated from the date the initial application is received and is not calculated on a calendar year basis.
2D. Why do you have a £500 limit?
The demand on our service means that we can’t afford to fund all applications received. The upper grant limits (£350 for Preventing Eviction and £500 for Accessing Accommodation) means we can afford to deliver the impact of a small grant for many people, rather than using our budget for only a few individuals.
2E. What if more than £500 is needed?
To award a grant, we must be confident that it will lead to the outcome being achieved.
Accessing Accommodation grants:
If a grant is to be used as part of a bigger package of support, then please include in the application what these other amounts are and the source eg £200 Discretionary Housing Payment.
Preventing Eviction grants:
If the landlord requires more than £350 to prevent the eviction, please make sure you tell us in the application how the additional amount will be funded.
We can only consider paying for arrears accrued up to your application date - do not ask for arrears in advance.
2F. Do you give grants for household goods?
We might only consider certain household goods in extremely limited, exceptional circumstances. The application must clearly demonstrate that accessing accommodation or preventing eviction is not possible without the item.
If you are looking for help that we don't provide, we suggest checking the Turn2 Us grants database
2G. Do you help with private tenancies?
Yes, we do provide deposits and rent in advance to help someone access a private tenancy. We also pay private tenancy arrears where this will prevent someone being evicted and made homeless.
2H. 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 / applicant organisation or directly to the Insolvency Service.
2I. Do you help with hoarding/decluttering?
Yes, if it would prevent eviction. The applicant will need to upload evidence that it would do so.
2J. I’m looking for help not covered by VRF’s grants
If you are looking for help that we don't provide, we recommend checking: Turn2 Us grants database
3A. Who do you help?
The VRF provides crisis grants for people who are:
- currently homeless or
- at imminent risk of becoming homeless
Applications should only be made to us as a last resort. As 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.
For detailed information, please read the VRF Grant Making Policy on our Help Page.
3B. Who can apply?
We only accept applications from paid frontline workers providing support to people who are helping people at risk of, or currently experiencing homelessness.
A frontline worker includes staff working in the voluntary, statutory and public sectors undertaking diverse roles including Resettlement or Outreach Workers, CAB advisers, Supported Housing Officers, Mental Health Teams, Drug and Alcohol Support, GP’s, Probation, Social Workers, Prison In-Reach Workers, Police, or Health professionals.
Before an application can be made, frontline workers must register with us by going to https://smitf.flexigrant.com/.
For more information about the registration process please see our New User Registration Video Guide on our Help Page.
3C. 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.
3D. Does the charity support people who are homeless and vulnerably housed outside of London?
Yes, we provide grants UK-wide.
3E. 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 formal possession proceedings have been started.
4A. I’m homeless, can I apply for a grant?
We do not accept applications from members of the public. We are not caseworkers and unfortunately cannot provide casework support ourselves.
If you need a grant yourself, you will need to approach a support service (eg a homelessness charity, such as those listed below, or Citizens Advice) and ask them to apply for you.
Northern Ireland: Housing Rights NI
Scotland: Shelter Scotland
Wales: Shelter Cymru
4B. What documentation is needed to support the application?
We also require evidence before we can assess application forms. For information about what application evidence is needed (and accepted formats), please see the 'Application Evidence' document under the heading 'Applying for a Grant' on our Help Page.
4C. How do I make an application?
We can only accept applications through our online Flexi-Grant Application Portal.
`Registration involves 3 steps:
- Provide your own, individual direct work email address
- Confirm your email address (you will receive an automated email prompting you to do this – it may go into your spam folder so check there)
- 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 a grant application form.
Please wait 5 working days for us to process your registration form. We will email you with our decision.
For more information on our registration process, please see our video guide under the heading 'Registration and Account Request' on our Help Page.
Once we have confirmed your account is set up you can submit grant applications.
For more information and instructions on submitting grant applications, please take a look at the video guide and links under the heading 'Applying for a Grant' on our Help Page.
4D. When will I hear back from you?
Please allow 5 working days to receive a response about your application. We ask that you do not contact us within this time. The VRF is in very high demand and to ensure we treat all applications fairly, we do not respond to requests for an application to be fast-tracked.
4E. Why was my application unsuccessful?
The VRF is in very high demand 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 client had already moved in to the accommodation
- Payment of the cost / item had already been made
- The application was made for support that VRF doesn’t offer eg to reduce arrears
- The required evidence was not provided
- The consent form was not complete or a VRF consent form was not uploaded to the application
- The case for support was not made in the application or we were not given enough information to make an informed decision. We need more than one or 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.
- We may have to decline some applications due to budget restrictions, and had to prioritise applications for people in less secure or unsafe housing / circumstances
4F. What does it mean if my grant is at "Current Stage: Offer"?
In Flexi-grant, 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.
5. Successful applications
5A. Can you pay clients directly?
We cannot normally make payments to clients.
We can only make BACS payments to service providers, support organisations, landlords, or to government agencies.
5B. 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, but if the cost for the new property is less than the grant amount we paid the unused funds must be returned.
For instructions of how to return funds, please log in to the Application Portal and see under the heading 'Returning Funds'
5C. Does the grant have to be paid back to the VRF?
Any correctly used grant funds (as set out in your application) do not need to be paid back. It is a grant not a loan.
Any unused grant funds do need to be paid back so that we can use them to support others.
For instructions of how to return funds, please log in to the Application Portal and see under the heading 'Returning Funds'
5D. The grant is no longer needed, how can I return it?
We can accept a grant return by BACS payment. Full instructions for returning a grant can be found in the Application Portal under the heading ‘The grant is no longer needed, how can I return it?’.
By returning unused funds to us, you are enabling us to reallocate them to someone else who needs financial support.
6. Evidence of expenditure
6A. What evidence should I send you after the VRF grant has been awarded?
Once the funds have been spent, you must provide evidence to the VRF that the funds have been used as set out in your application within six weeks of the grant being paid.
For a list of what types of evidence is required please see the 'Post-Grant Evidence' document under the heading 'Post-Grant Evidence' on our Help Page.
For instructions on how to submit the evidence please see the video guide under the heading 'Post-Grant Evidence' on our Help Page.
6B. Why is my account suspended?
By accepting a VRF grant you agreed to provide us with evidence of how the grant was spent as set out in our Terms & Conditions document, which can be found on our Help Page.
If you are late submitting evidence without agreeing this with us first, or if there are unresolved 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.
If you cannot access your account, but are unsure why, please send email the team at email@example.com so that we can look into this for you.
6C. 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.
Can I provide verbal consent?
If your client is unable / not available to sign the Written Consent Form by hand, themselves for personal or practical reasons, there will be an option in the grant application to complete verbal consent.
A completed VRF consent form must be uploaded to your application before we can assess it.
For instructions on how to complete the consent form, see the video guide under the heading ' Client Consent / Consent Form' on our Help Page.