As we begin 2021, York-based Family Fund Business Services’ half-year figures show how they have worked with customers to deliver valuable support to thousands more households struggling,  during a time that has seen an unprecedented rise in need for its services due to the pandemic.

Family Fund Business Services (FFBS) provides a range of essential goods and services, from white goods and furniture to energy and food vouchers, to support charities, local authorities, housing providers and other commercial organisations.

The coronavirus crisis has resulted in a huge increase in grants made by FFBS’ customers as they provided vital services to support those directly affected by the pandemic.

Highlighting the fact that hundreds of thousands of people across the UK have found themselves in new or increased hardship due to the pandemic, in the first six months of 2020/21 FFBS helped to deliver essential items to 135,000 households, 10,000 more than in 2019/20 as a whole. They also helped to deliver 30% more food vouchers and 59% more food vouchers than they did in 2019/20 as a whole.

FFBS has supported customers to set up and manage Coronavirus-specific schemes quickly and efficiently as well as assisting with the administration of free school meal vouchers and self-isolation payments. Due to its systems and processes, they can get a new scheme up and running for a customer within 3-5 working days.

The company’s unique business model means all profits are donated as unrestricted funds to its parent charity Family Fund, the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously-ill children, which has itself seen a large rise in applications for support from families in need.

After raising £1.17 million for the charity in 2019/20, in the first half of this financial year FFBS has generated £708,000in vital funding.

FFBS Managing Director Jill Wheeler says:

“This has been an exceptionally busy year for FFBS and our partners who have seen an unprecedented need for increased support.

“Coronavirus has taught us to expect the unexpected and always be prepared. Investments in our technology over the past two years meant that the team were able to transition effortlessly to home working in March. This ensured that we could not only maintain our service levels but also the increase in need for our services, which rose by up to 600% in some cases, to support our customers and their beneficiaries though the pandemic

“As a nation we saw a mass closure of “non-essential” stores during lockdown, including many clothing stores; and the installation of certain household appliances was forced to pause.

“However, for someone fleeing domestic abuse, access to clothing is absolutely essential; and for someone trying to self-isolate at home, doing so without working appliances to cook meals or store food, poses a further risk to their health.

“What is essential when you are facing hardship is certainly broader than we all think, and throughout the last seven months, the FFBS team has worked tirelessly to ensure those communities worst affected by Coronavirus have been able to access the financial help they need, quickly and effectively.

“We have strengthened relationships with our suppliers and worked in partnership with all of our stakeholders to deliver the best possible service in the most difficult of times.

“Most of all, the team have pulled together to support one another, in ways which I could not have imagined, and I am immensely proud of them all.”