A Week in the Life of our
Direct Grants Manager

Amina Jan 16 2.jpg

Amina has been with Walton Charity for 13 years. She is responsible for our funding programme for individuals. She sometimes liaises directly with individual applicants through our Direct Grants programme, however, she increasingly works with referral agencies and organisations which hold a delegated fund. The delegated funds give organisations and schools a pot of money to use to support their clients.

She shares a typical week with us.

First thing in the morning, I responded to my emails, telephone, and text messages, dealing first with those that seem more urgent. This morning I had a call from a lovely elderly man who, having previously been homeless, had just been allocated an unfurnished flat in one of the local authority’s sheltered housing schemes. He wanted to apply for a grant to buy a fridge freezer. This would allow him to save money by buying food in bulk. As he was unable to complete an online application, I sent him a paper copy in the post. He gave me permission to phone his housing association to flag up his situation and to ensure they completed the necessary referral form for him. By Wednesday, I had assessed his application, ordered his fridge freezer and he had received delivery by Friday.

In the afternoon, I participated in a Zoom meeting about a new local programme focusing on helping young people onto the employment ladder. By engaging in these discussions, it helps me to identify new ways of supporting young people.

After dealing with emails queries and attending our weekly team meeting, a call came through from a support worker who had been given the task of settling two teenage siblings back home, after being in care. Initially, she had enquired about a grant to provide the teenagers with bikes but as the conversation progressed, more needs were identified. We decided that a support package of extracurricular activities would help boost their confidence and self-esteem and help them stay away from unhealthy situations. I told the support worker that the children’s school has an Opportunities Fund and the school could consider using this to encourage attendance, for example, supporting with transport costs whilst they are settling. We also discussed the financial hardship the mum was experiencing, and I signposted the support worker to organisations that would be able to help the mother manage her debts.

In the afternoon, I had to follow up call with two of our Delegated Fund holders to establish how much funding they have left and to ensure that they had sufficient funds to cater for their clients’ needs.

Today, I contacted five of the schools that hold an Opportunities Fund. I aim to do this during the first two weeks of the academic year, to re-establish connections after the summer break and to ensure they are ready to apply and receive funds from us.

Whilst waiting for their responses, I made sure that all the agreement letters and other paperwork were up-to-date and in line with our policies. I entered all the information on our database ready to make a payment request to our Finance Department.

At times, this can seem like a painstaking process, but knowing that the schools have the funds to quickly assist pupils from families who are struggling financially, makes it all worthwhile.

I received a tearful call from a lady we had supported last year with a new bed and mattress for her child. She had an ongoing dispute with her housing association about the repair of one of her white goods. She is under a Debt Relief Order and can only pay for essential food and her utility bills. Coupled with this financial stress, she has multiple health conditions, including severe anxieties and she’s a carer for her mother and young child too. Having obtained permission to share her information with the housing association’s officer, after a lengthy conversation and several emails exchanges, we were able to work together on a solution and the housing association agreed to help her. It was satisfying to being able to give her help and reassurance and lovely to hear the relief in this mum’s voice.

This morning I undertook a supervision call with a qualified counsellor to go through all the sometimes complex and sad situations I come across during the week. These sessions equip me to better manage the different emotions such as sadness, anxiety, or anger that applicants can sometimes express when contacting me.

I then received a call from a local organisation (who is also a Delegated Fund holder) who wanted to refer someone for a Direct Grant. It was a mother who lived in keyworker accommodation and who was in arrears with her childcare costs. I decided to contact the applicant directly as it was likely the funds needed were above the threshold for a Delegated Fund. I’m glad I did, as she was extremely distressed about the situation she found herself in and worried that it could lead to her losing her home. Because of the pandemic, her care worker role had been affected and, as a result, her benefits had been adjusted, which led her to accrue arrears with her childcare provider. I felt a sense of relief to be able to quickly confirm with the Delegated Fund holder that they could go ahead and use their fund to cover the cost of childcare, while they dealt with her other financial issues.