Small Charity Week 2022: spotlight on Fashion and Textile Children's Trust

It's the final day of #SmallCharityWeek 2022!

What is Small Charity Week?

Small Charity Week was first established in 2010 by the Foundation for Social Improvement as a way to celebrate and raise the profile of small charities – the unsung heroes of the charity sector. This makes it the perfect opportunity to showcase the incredible story and work of one of our wonderful clients: Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust (FTCT). With an impact that far outweighs their size, FTCT really characterises the underlying philosophy of Small Charity Week: small but mighty!

Photo by Fashion and Textile Children's Trust

#SmallCharityStory: who are Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust?

FTCT may be small, but they have a long history of providing financial support to families in the UK fashion and textile industry. The charity was founded back in 1853, to support the families of those working within the thriving cotton weaving industry. Since its establishment, the trust’s work has attracted the support of some prestigious figures, including author Charles Dickens, who became their Chairman of Appeal in 1856!

Over the years, FTCT has evolved to better reflect the modern-day fashion and textile industry and all its related sectors, but its vision remains unchanged: that no child should have to live without the essential items they need to thrive. Supporting the well-being of children and parents is at the heart of what they do, and they award hundreds of thousands of pounds in grants each year to help families overcome financial hardship and provide their children with the resources they need.

What is the need?

Latest reports indicate that 3.9 million UK children live in absolute poverty, defined by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as being unable to meet the minimum needs of your household with the resources you have. In the case of the families supported by the FTCT, this might be struggling to heat and/or power their homes or to provide their children with essential items like a food and a comfortable place to sleep. The Resolution Foundation estimated a further 500,000 children could be pushed into absolute poverty over the coming months as a result of the cost of living crisis and ministers’ decision to increase benefits and the state pension at less than half the 8% inflation rate – equivalent to an £11bn cut in the value of support.

This comes after a hugely challenging two years for the fashion, retail, and textile sectors. The impact of the many issues that the pandemic presented are still being felt by the sector and its workforce. For employers, there are concerns around economic recovery, increasing costs, and the decline of the high street. For employees, they have faced periods of furlough, redundancies, on-going uncertainty, and an increase in the cost of living. This all creates a turbulent and challenging time for families and disadvantages their children.

The children supported by FTCT often face a range of life issues on top of this, which cause them additional challenges and increased need of financial support:

  • 17% live with a disability

  • 11% have fled domestic abuse

  • 11% need mental health support

  • 4% are homeless or living in unsettled housing

Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust: their work and impact

Over the past five years, FTCT have distributed £1.8million in grants to support 3,640 children across the UK. This last financial year alone they have awarded £300,000 in grants, but feel that this number will need to increase rapidly as more families feel the financial pressure of the cost of living crisis.

Through their work, they have:

  • Awarded £1,846,556 in grants

  • Purchased 8,663 essential items

  • Supported 3,640 children

FTCT aim to turn around applications within 4 weeks of receiving the relevant documents. All grants are tailored to the individual needs of the children, and parents are supported throughout the process.

However, they have calculated that they are only reaching 2% of children eligible for support, and aim to scale up their impact.

Photo by Fashion and Textile Children's Trust

Jill Haines, Marketing and Communications Manager at FTCT, commented:

“There are over 160,000 charities in the UK, and each has their own unique issue they are trying to solve. Our charity’s niche is the fashion and textile community, but at our heart we are a children’s charity. As a small charity we are constantly working hard to build a community of dedicated supporters who really care about helping to lift UK children out of poverty. That’s where our work with Oaks has really helped. Backed by our new fundraising strategy, we are embarking on an exciting journey to build and grow our supporter base, focused on the difference we can all make to help children thrive.”

To find out more about FTCT and how you can support their vital work, visit their website here.

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