Coronavirus Kent: Emergency Hardship Fund launched by the Kent Community Foundation and Wards to give money to struggling families
The scheme has been set up by charitable organisation Kent Community Foundation, and kick-started with a donation of more than £60,000 from estate agent Wards.
The fund gives families, successful in their application, cash to buy essential items for their child or for the family to make life more manageable at home.
It is part of a wide-range of emergency measures KCF has brought in to try and help smaller charities, bodies and volunteer groups across the county adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic, ensure they can continue their work where possible or keep their organisations afloat.
The Emergency Hardship Fund for individuals rather than groups will enable parents or carers of children with complex needs to buy 'essentials' specific to their unique situation.
This Fund has been opened specifically to help those who already deal with the complex need of their child or children and now also face increased challenges through reduced income from losing their job or being furloughed, with many also seeing an increase in expenditure as their children stay at home from school.
The Fund is focusing on requests for support towards essential costs including bills and food expenses, but ad hoc requests will also be considered.
Wards, part of Arun Estates, is the main supporter of the annual Children's Awards in Kent which each year recognises and celebrates the outstanding achievements of the county's brave and courageous children.
The coronavirus outbreak has meant this year's event cannot be launched but Wards, wishing to continue its unwaivering support to families in need, has found another way to support those caring for children with additional needs.
Josephine McCartney, chief executive of the Kent Community Foundation which is responsible for administering the scheme and the distribution of money said ordinarily it would purchase equipment or items for a family in need rather than giving them a cash payment.
But the severity and urgency of the current situation, has meant that this scheme will be administered differently.
She explained: "A lot of these families live hand to mouth. We would normally not give families money, we would try to purchase something but we are now making donations to people's bank accounts. For essentials.
"To try and take some of the worry financially away so that they can concentrate on care."
Families in need of funding support must be referred to the KCF through a professional third party who can nominate on their behalf. This could be a social worker, a GP, specialist doctor, occupational therapist or school teaching staff.
To make the process as swift and seamless as possible, applications can on this occasion be made via email, and there are no forms to fill out.
David Lench, group managing director at Wards, said: "Helping people lies at the heart at everything we do, so when we found out that Kent Community Foundation had set up their Coronavirus Emergency Fund to assist children and families across Kent with complex needs, we didn't hesitate in pledging £65,000.
"We know that with KCF's help they will ensure that these funds will be shared with families in real need, to assist in making their already challenging family lives that little bit easier in the difficult times we now find ourselves in.
"We've done the easy bit, it's KCF's involvement and hard work that will get the funds out to those who need it most, we're just humbled and grateful to be in the position to play our small part."
To learn more about the fund and making an application visit https://kentcf.org.uk/