AbilityNet Factsheet - February 2018

Finding funding for an adapted computer system

Despite falling prices, the cost of a suitable computer system is still beyond the means of many disabled people, especially those on a low income.

This factsheet provides information and advice on how disabled people may obtain alternative funding for assistive technology that could make a significant difference to their quality of life.

In addition to potential government support – for students and disabled people in employment or seeking work – a large number of charities are willing to help fund the cost of specialist computer systems and communication aids.

Generally, such grants are only made in situations where no statutory support is available, and where the required items cannot be funded by any other means. Many charities only make awards to people in receipt of state benefits and will want to be satisfied that applicants are receiving their full entitlement. Also, a single charity may not cover the entire cost, and will therefore expect applicants to demonstrate how they propose to make up any potential shortfall.

Last updated: February 2018

1. Grants from government

Access to Work

The ‘Access to Work’ scheme provides practical advice and support to help disabled people overcome any obstacles related to work. This can include a grant towards any additional employment costs.

Our Workplace Assessment Service can advise on how the scheme can help employers meet the costs of any necessary equipment or support that you may need to work effectively. Grant support can be provided for:

  • special aids and equipment (including adaptations)
  • travel to and from work
  • communications support, at interviews and in work.

To find out more, please visit www.abilitynet.org.uk/workplace or call our free helpline for on 0800 269 545.

Disabled Students Allowance

The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) is a grant to help meet the extra course costs that students in higher education may face because of a disability. This grant can assist with the costs of specialist computer equipment and any related software you might need.

To find out more, please visit www.abilitynet.org.uk/dsa or call our free helpline for on 0800 269 545.

2. How to apply for charitable funding

Many charities request applicants to apply online or to download, complete and submit their application form. Others may simply invite you to apply in writing.

Whatever the process, your chances of success will be greatly increased if you:

  • provide a precise list of everything you need
  • have obtained reasonable quotes from suppliers for the costs of meeting your requirements
  • are able to clearly describe why you need this equipment and what difference it will make to your daily life and wellbeing
  • include full details of your financial situation – so that it is clear why you are asking for assistance – and information on anything else you are doing or have done to raise the necessary funds
  • ensure your application is easy to read and copy
  • include your full contact details – name, postal address, email address and telephone number(s).
  • submit it to the right person (at the right time) – if you are unsure of this, call the charity first to obtain the correct contact information.

Some charities require your application to be formally supported by someone who knows you in a professional capacity. This could be, for example, a social worker, GP, occupational therapist, charity worker senior teacher. Even if this is not an explicit requirement, it may help your application to enlist such helpful support or sponsorship.

Trustees are also busy people who, generally, give their time voluntarily so they will appreciate you keeping your application short and to the point.

If you are posting your application, it is also good practice to include a stamped-addressed envelope.

Finally, after submitting your application, do not expect an instant answer.  Some trusts do not reply to unsuccessful applicants while others only meet infrequently.

3. National charities

There are a large number of national charities, trusts and benevolent societies that give grants and welfare support to individuals in need – many of which are detailed below. The funds these charities manage are discretionary and are intended to complement any support provided by central and local government.

ACT Foundation

ACT provides grants of up to £2,500 to help enhance the quality of life for people in need, including those with a physical or mental disability. Examples of grants ACT will consider include communication aids and specialised software.

Download the application form and return it to: The Grants Manager, The ACT Foundation, 61 Thames Street, Windsor SL4 1QW. Applications must be sent by post.

Website: www.theactfoundation.co.uk
Email: info@theactfoundation.co.uk
Tel: 01753 753 900

Barchester’s Charitable Foundation

Barchester’s Charitable Foundation gives grants of £100 to £5,000 to disabled adults where an application will encourage people’s mobility, independence and improved quality of life.

Apply online, or download the application form and return it to: Grants Management Team, Barchester’s Charitable Foundation, Suite 201, Second Floor, Design Centre East, Chelsea Harbour, London, SW10 0XF.

All applications for individuals must be completed by a third party who knows the individual in a professional or community-based capacity.

Website: www.bhcfoundation.org.uk
Email: info@bhcfoundation.org.uk
Tel: 0800 328 3328

Birkdale Trust for Hearing Impaired

The Birkdale Trust makes grants to advance the education of children and young people (up to their mid-twenties) with a hearing impairment.

Write to: The Administrator, BTHI Ltd, 21 Gleneagles Drive, Southport, PR8 3PP.

Website: www.grantsforthedeaf.co.uk

Blind Children UK

Blind Children UK offers a grants programme to help children and young people access the most appropriate technology and sensory equipment.

Send a written application to: Blind Children UK, Hillfields, Reading Road, Burghfield Common, Reading, Berkshire, RG7 3YG.

Website: www.blindchildrenuk.org
Email: services@blindchildrenuk.org
Tel: 0800 781 1444

British Association of Health Services in Higher Education (BAHSHE)

BAHSHE’s Student Disability Assistance Fund helps students in higher education whose studies have been interrupted or delayed by illness, injury or disability. Priority is given to those not eligible for funding from their local education authority.

Send a written application to: Mrs Sandra Furmston, Administrative Secretary, BAHSHE Office,35 Hazelwood Rd, Bush Hill Park, Enfield, EN1 1JG. This should be supported with a letter from a tutor, member of academic staff, disability advisor or doctor.

Website: www.studenthealthassociation.co.uk
Email: s.furmston@mdx.ac.uk
Tel: 020 8482 2412

Challenger Children’s Fund

The Challenger Children’s Fund gives grants to physically disabled children (under 18 years) resident in Scotland, including for computer equipment.

Download the application form and return it to: Challenger Children’s Fund, Suite 353, 44/46 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, EH10 4BF.

Website: www.ccfscotland.org
Email: info@ccfscotland.org
Tel: 07531 58041

Family Fund

Family Fund provide grants to families across the UK who are raising with disabled or seriously ill children Grants are awarded for a wide range of items, such as washing machines, sensory toys, family breaks, bedding, tablets, furniture, outdoor play equipment, clothing and computers – including games, laptops and tablets.  Requests for any non-statutory item that relates to the emotional, physical or other need of the child will be considered and grants are made in the form of a payment card or voucher, or the product requested may be supplied directly.

Family Fund also provide other support to families raising disabled or seriously ill children, including a Digital Skills Programme (www.familyfund.org.uk/digital) to help parents and carers to develop their digital confidence and use tablet computers in ways that best meet the needs of their disabled child. Visit www.familyfund.org.uk to find out more about the grants and services available from Family Fund or call 01904 550055.

Website: www.familyfund.org.uk
Email: info@familyfund.org.uk
Tel: 01904 550055

Friends of the Elderly

The Supporting Friends service provides grants to people on a low income who are over state retirement age and living in their own homes in England or Wales. It offers grants for essential items, unexpected or large bills, household repairs and equipment such as tablets and smartphones.

Download the application form and return it to: Friends of the Elderly, 40-42 Ebury Street, London SW1W 0LZ.

Someone working in a health or social care team or a local charity or community group must apply on your behalf.

Website: www.fote.org.uk
Email: hello@fote.org.uk
Tel: 0330 332 1110

Gardner’s Trust for the Blind

Gardner’s Trust for the Blind provides grants of up to £600 towards computer equipment and software, education or training costs, and household items for people who are registered blind or partially sighted.

Applications must be made in writing to: Angela Stewart, 117 Charterhouse Street, London EC1M 6AA.

Tel: 020 7253 3757

Glasspool Charity Trust

The Glasspool Charity Trust provides grants to individuals on low incomes who are in difficult circumstances. This includes funding for educational computer equipment for people with disabilities.

For more information, write to: Glasspool, Saxon House (Second Floor), 182 Hoe Street, London E17 4QH.

Someone from an eligible referring agency must apply on your behalf. This could be a social worker, health care worker, charity adviser, Tenancy support worker or Citizens Advice Bureau. Applications are made online through GrantsPlus.

Website: www.glasspool.org.uk
Email: grants@glasspool.org.uk
Tel: 020 3141 3161

Guide Dogs

Guide Dogs provide funding and advice through their Access Technology Service for children (18 years and under) with sight loss. Grant applications will be considered for technology or sensory items that support the charity’s vision, including laptops, tablets, braille devices and specialist software. Successful applicants must contribute 10% of the total cost and provide supporting evidence from a Visually Impaired Advisor.

Download the application form and email or post it back to: Guide Dogs, Children and Young People Services, Grant Service, 48-62 Woodville Road, Harborne, Birmingham, B17 9AT

Website: www.guidedogs.org.uk
Email: maria.smedstad@guidedogs.org.uk
Tel: 0118 983 5555

Headley Trust

The Headley Trust provides grant funding for practical aids for disabled people aged 16+. Grants of up to £2,500 are made to help people purchase equipment that will increase their mobility. This includes funding for specially adapted computer systems and communication aids. In most cases, any award will be for no more than half the total cost.

Download the application form and return it to: The Headley Trust, The Peak, 5 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1AP.

Applicants must be referred by a third party such as a registered charity, medical professional, social care worker or Citizens Advice Bureau. The referrer must specifically endorse the item(s) requested.

Website: www.sfct.org.uk/Headley.html

Independence at Home

Independence at Home provides grants to people who have a long-term illness or disability, including grants for communication equipment.

Independence at Home, Fourth Floor, Congress House, 14 Lyon Road, Harrow HA1 2EN.

To apply for help, you must be referred by an appropriate professional – social worker, occupational therapist, specialist nurse or health worker etc.

Website: www.independenceathome.org.uk
Email: iah@independenceathome.org.uk
Tel: 020 8427 7929

Janki Saye Foundation

The Janki Saye Foundation provides grants to fund assistive technologies which can transform the lives of people with disabilities. This can include funds for electronic pointing devices, touch screens, screen readers and text-to-speech communication aids.

Request a grant application form by email. You should include some basic information in your email about the nature of your disability and the type of assistive technology you require. Supporting evidence is required from a qualified medical professional.

Website: www.jankisaye.org
Email: grants@jankisaye.org

Lawrence Atwell’s Charity

Lawrence Atwell’s Charity assists young people (aged 16-26 years) from low-income backgrounds to gain vocational, accredited qualifications to Level 3.

Applicants must register and complete an online eligibility quiz. Eligible applicants are then directed to an online application form.

Website: www.atwellcharity.org.uk
Email: atwell@skinners.org.uk
Tel: 020 7213 0561

League of the Helping Hand

The League of the Helping Hand provides grants to people illness or disabilities who are on a very low income and receiving appropriate benefits. Grants of up to £150 are available for specialist equipment (including computers and IT equipment) not available from statutory agencies.

Download the application form and return it to: The Secretary, LHH, PO Box 342, Burgess Hill RH15 5AQ.

A social worker, health professional, housing support officer or charity worker must apply on your behalf.

Website: www.lhh.org.uk
Email: secretary@lhh.org.uk
Tel: 01444 236 099

Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Discover IT@ Home project offers disabled adults an opportunity to access specialist IT equipment at home. The scheme provides some disabled people with a free PC so that they can experience the benefits of digital inclusion.

Contact Leonard Cheshire Disability for more information.

Website: www.leonardcheshire.org
Email: innovation@lcdisability.org
Tel: 08456 717173

Lifeline 4 Kids

LifeLine 4 Kids does not make cash grants but does provide essential equipment to help improve the quality of life for children (up to 18 years) with disabilities and special needs. This can include computing equipment and communication aids – but applications for iPads will only be considered if recommended by the child’s school for use in conjunction and collaboration with the school.

Initial approach should be by email or by post to: LifeLine 4 Kids, 215 West End Lane, West Hampstead, London, NW6 1XJ.

Website: www.lifeline4kids.org/application
Email: appeals@lifeline4kids.org

Motor Neuron Disease (MND) Association

The MND Association offers four types of grant support which could possibly be used towards the cost of assistive technology. These include a Quality of Life Grant of up to £1,000, and a Children and Young Person’s Grant of up to £250 in any one year.

Download the relevant application form and return it by email or post to: Support Services Team, MND Association, PO Box 246, Northampton, NN1 2PR.

Website: www.mndassociation.org
Email support.services@mndassociation.org
Tel: 01604 611802

MS Society

The MS Society provides Health and Wellbeing Grants to anyone with MS (or their carer) who has less than £16,000 in household savings. People with more than £8,000 in savings are asked to make a contribution towards the cost. These grants are available for anything that can have a significant impact on your life, including computers and communication aids.

Download an application form and return it by email or post to: Grants Team, MS Society, MS National Centre, 372 Edgware Road, London NW2 6ND

Website: www.mssociety.org.uk
Email: grants@mssociety.org.uk
Supporter Care Team - Tel: 0300 500 8084

Muscular Dystrophy UK

The Joseph Patrick Trust (the welfare fund within Muscular Dystrophy UK) provides grants towards the costs of specialist equipment and assistive technology, including adapted computers, for children and adults with muscular dystrophy or a related neuromuscular condition.

Apply online, or download the application form and return it with supporting documentation to: Joseph Patrick Trust, Muscular Dystrophy UK, 61A Great Suffolk Street, London, SE1 0BU.

Every application should be supported by a quote for the equipment and an assessment carried out by a qualified professional, for example – a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, specialist dealer, Muscular Dystrophy UK regional care advisor, social worker or nurse.

Website: www.musculardystrophyuk.org
Email: jptgrants@musculardystrophyuk.org
Tel: 02078034811 or 02078034845

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children

The Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children provides grants for essential equipment, including communication aids, for children under the age of 19 with a significant disability, a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, or a terminal illness.

Download the application and return it by post to: Care Services Department, Newlife Centre, Hemlock Way, Cannock, Staffordshire, WS11 7GF. Alternatively, it can be sent by email to careadmin@newlifecharity.co.uk

Part One of the application form should be completed by the parent/main carer; Part Two must be completed by an appropriate local professional.

Website: www.newlifecharity.co.uk
Email: Nurse@newlifecharity.co.uk
Nurse Chat: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/live
Care Services Team - Tel: 0800 902 0095

Peter Greenwood Memorial Trust

The Peter Greenwood Memorial Trust gives grants of up to £1,000 for books or equipment to students who are deaf or hearing impaired undertaking courses in further or higher education or training in England and Wales.

Applicants need to be supported by a qualified sponsor who is able to verify the degree of hearing loss and its impact on the applicant’s ability to further their education.

Apply online.

Website: www.pgmtrust.org.uk
Email: apply@pgmt.org.uk

Regain

Regain helps people who have had a sports-related spinal cord injury resulting in tetraplegia/quadriplegia. Grant support is available for potential ‘regainers’ to help provide them with the specialist equipment that will enable them to achieve greater independence and improve their quality of life.

Send a written application to: Regain, 78 Shirburn Road, Watlington, Oxon, OX49 5BZ.

Website: www.regainsportscharity.com
Email: enquiries@regainsportscharity.com
Tel: 01491 613980

RNIB

The RNIB provides grants of up to £500 for useful technology that enables blind or partially sighted people to live independently. These grants are available for people on a low income (in receipt of a means-tested benefit) who have been refused funding from their local authority.

Useful technology can include accessibility and magnification software, computer dictation software and voice recorders, talking phones, accessible phones, accessible tablets, personal assistance and smart home devices.

Download the application form and return it to: RNIB Customer Knowledge and Information Team, 105 Judd Street, London, WC1H 9NE.

Your application form must be supported by a professional who knows your personal circumstances.

Website: www.rnib.org.uk
Email: ckit@rnib.org.uk
Tel: 020 7391 2020

SEQUAL Trust

The Sequal Trust provides help to people with communication, movement or learning difficulties who rely on electronic communication aids (AAC) and specialist computer access equipment.

To apply for assistance, you need to become a member of the Trust. If your application is successful, the Trust will open a fund-raising campaign on your behalf.

You must become a member of the trust to apply for assistance. Download the four forms required – the Membership Form, Just Giving Declaration, Income and Expenditure Form and Assessment Form. Post the completed forms to: The Sequal Trust, 3 Ploughman’s Corner, Wharf Road, Ellesmere, Shropshire, SY12 0EJ.

The Assessment Form must be completed by your healthcare professional –preferably a speech and language therapist or a special needs tutor.

Website: www.thesequaltrust.org.uk
Email: info@thesequaltrust.org.uk
Tel: 01691 624 222

Snowdon Trust

The Snowdon Trust helps students with physical and sensory disabilities in post-16 education. Awards are made for disability-related costs, including items such as computers, that cannot be funded from other sources.

Unit 18, Oakhurst Business Park, Southwater, West Sussex RH13 9RT.

Website: www.snowdontrust.org
Email: info@snowdontrust.org
Tel: 01403 732 899

VICTA

VICTA provides grants to blind and partially sighted children and young people (under 29 years) for visual aid equipment including video magnifiers, computers, laptops, braillers and sensory toys.

VICTA is also currently working in partnership with RNIB on a grant programme to support independent study using technology. Blind or partially-sighted students aged between 11 and 25 could be eligible for a 32GB iPad.

Apply online, or download an application form and return it by email or post to: VICTA Children, 5 Douglas House, 32-34 Simpson Road, Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK1 1BA.

Your application must include a supporting statement from a professional.

Website: www.victa.org.uk
Email: grants@victa.org.uk
Tel: 01908 240 831

4. Occupational and benevolent funds

Most trades and occupational groups have at least one benevolent fund that can provide practical help and support to its members and their dependants, especially in times of need. Some of these are detailed below.

Bakers’ Benevolent Society

The Bakers’ Benevolent Society provides support (including small grants to aid independent living) to retired members of the Baking Industry and Allied Trades.

Website: www.bakersbenevolent.co.uk

Email: bbs@bakersbenevolent.co.uk

Telephone: 01992 575951

Ben

Ben provides help and support to people (and their dependents) who are working, or who have worked, in the automative sector. Its mission is to make a positive difference to people’s lives by helping to improve their health and wellbeing.

Website: www.ben.org.uk
Email: supportservices@ben.org.uk
Helpline: 08081 311 333

BT Benevolent Fund

The BT Benevolent Fund serves past and present BT people, and their dependents who are suffering financial hardship.

Website: www.helpmusicians.org.uk
Email: benevolent@bt.com
Telephone: 0208 726 2145

Education Support Partnership

The Education Support Partnership provides grants to help support people working in or retired from the education sector who are suffering financial problems caused by unemployment, ill health, sudden life events, bereavement or a personal injury.

Website: www.educationsupportpartnership.org.uk
Email: enquiries@edsupport.org.uk
Helpline: 08000 562 561

Electrical Industries Charity

The Electrical Industries Charity runs a number of programmes that provide financial help and support to current and former workers (and their families) in any electrical industry.

Website: www.electricalcharity.org
Free & confidential advice: support@electricalcharity.org
Access assistance: 0800 652 1618

Help Musicians UK

Help Musicians UK offers practical, positive support to emerging, professional and retired musicians who hit a crisis in their lives, or who have a long-term or terminal illness, or who have other special needs.

Website: www.helpmusicians.org.uk
Email: help@helpmusicians.org.uk
Helpline: 0207 239 9101

Perennial

Perennial provides advice, support and financial assistance to people who work in, or who are retired from, horticulture when times get tough.

Website: www.perennial.org.uk
Email: info@perennial.org.uk
Telephone: 0800 093 8510

Timber Trades Benevolent Society

The Timber Trades’ Benevolent Society endeavours to provide assistance to those past and present members of the timber trades who are in need.

Website: www.ttbs.org.uk
Email: info@ttbs.org.uk
Telephone: 08448 92 22 05

5. Service associations

Regimental societies and the armed forces’ service associations are also able to offer help and support to serving members, ex-service personnel and their families.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

The Soldiers’ Charity supports soldiers and veterans from the British Army, and their immediate families, when they are in need.

Website: www.soldierscharity.org

Association of Royal Navy Officers

The Association of Royal Navy Officers provides support to both serving and retired officers of the Naval Service and dependents in need of financial support.

Website: www.arno.org.uk
Email: rnoc@arno.org.uk
Telephone: 020 740 25231

RAF Benevolent Fund

The RAF Benevolent Fund provides support for former and serving members of the RAF, their partners and dependent children. It also supports Reservists and widows and widowers and former members of the Royal Observer Corps.

Website: www.rafbf.org
Email: mail@rafbf.org
Telephone 0800 169 2942

Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion provides lifelong support for the armed forces community - serving men and women, veterans, and their families. This can include grants for people in financial hardship or crisis.

Website: www.britishlegion.org.uk
Email: info”@britishlegion.org.uk
Helpline: 0808 802 8080

Royal Naval Benevolent Trust

The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust provides financial assistance and support to Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families in times of need.

Website: www.rnbt.org.uk
Email: rnbt@rnbt.org.uk
Telephone: 02392 690112

6. Second-hand and loan equipment

Rather than providing grant support some charities and social enterprises provide reconditioned computers at low prices, while others loan them out.

  • On their website, IT for Charities list companies that supply reconditioned computers to individuals and organisations – see www.itforcharities.co.uk
  • Computers for the Disabled also recycle multi-media computers to people and organisations – see www.cftd.co.uk
  • The MND Association has an equipment bank from which they will loan equipment, including communication aids, to people affected by motor neuron disease – see www.mndassociation.org
  • ARCOS has an equipment library making computer equipment available for free trial and rental. Its resources include devices for alternative and augmentative communication, and alternative input devices for those unable to use conventional keyboards and mice – see www.arcos.org.uk
  • NDCS offers deaf children and their families a ‘Technology Test Drive’. This is an opportunity to borrow radio aids and other specialist equipment to assess in their own home or at school. You need to become a member to borrow the equipment – see www.ndcs.org.uk

7. Other sources of information about charities

The above lists of sources are not comprehensive and there are many other potential funding sources you may try. Your local reference library should hold helpful information about other relevant charitable organisations, including the following publications:

The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need (updated every two years). Visit www.dsc.org.uk

The Charities Digest (updated annually) – provides a comprehensive guide to benevolent funds and disabled associations. Visit www.wlrstore.com

The Educational Grants Directory – gives comprehensive book on all potential funding for school pupils and undergraduate students. Visit www.dsc.org.uk

Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. Visit its online Grants Search at grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/

You may also find out about more local opportunities for funding support from your local:

  • Council for Voluntary Service
  • Citizen’s Advice Bureau
  • Social Services department
  • church, Round Table, Inner Wheel, Lions or Rotary clubs etc.

8. How AbilityNet can help you

My Computer My Way

My Computer My Way is an AbilityNet run website packed with articles explaining how to use the accessibility features built into your computer, tablet or smartphone. The site is routinely updated as new features and changes are made to the Windows, MacOS, iOS, Chrome OS and Android operating systems. The site is broken down into the following sections:

  • Vision – computer adjustments to do with vision and colour
  • Hearing – computer adjustments to do with hearing, communication and speech
  • Motor – computer adjustments to do mobility, stamina and dexterity
  • Cognitive – computer adjustments to do with attention, learning and memory

Use it for free at mcmw.abilitynet.org.uk

Advice and information

If you have any questions please contact us at AbilityNet and we will do all we can to help.

IT support at Home

If you’re looking for in-person support, you can book a free visit from one of our disclosure-checked volunteers. Many of our volunteers are former IT professionals who give their time to help older people and people with disabilities to use technology to achieve their goals. Our friendly volunteers can help with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones.

https://abilitynet.org.uk/at-home

Copyright information

This factsheet is licensed by AbilityNet under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. View a copy of this license at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

 
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