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Funding from charitable trusts

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F25


Disability Rights UK is a national registered charity. As a charity, our funds are limited and we are therefore unable to give financial assistance to disabled students or those working on their behalf.

If you can’t get the money you need to do a course from official or statutory sources, trusts may be able to help you raise the funds. Each trust has its own eligibility criteria, so it’s essential you make sure you meet the trust’s criteria before you apply. There is no guarantee you’ll get a grant from a trust even if you meet their criteria. Grants and awards are made at the discretion of each trust and they usually receive more applications than they can support. Who they help and the amount they give varies considerably.

Part A of the factsheet gives advice about how to apply to trusts. Part B lists trusts that may help with funding. Some trusts only help disabled students, while others help students in addition to other people. Most trusts help young disabled students, but some have flexible criteria and will consider funding mature disabled students.

Part A

1. Trust criteria

Charitable trusts will usually have an eligibility criteria that you have to meet in order to get help from them. The trusts will usually help you if you are on a low income or experiencing financial hardship and have something in common such as: 

  • the subject or course you are studying
  • your personal circumstances, such as your impairment or medical condition
  • where you live or have been brought up
  • your family, your parental circumstances or their occupation
  • your current or past occupation
  • a combination of the above

2. Before you apply

Make sure you have obtained all possible statutory or official funding before approaching trusts. Before considering your application, most trusts will ask you if you’ve applied for all other possible sources of money.

Disability Rights UK has a number of factsheets that can help you identify other sources of financial support on funding further education for disabled students and funding higher education for disabled students.

3. When you apply

Contact the trust first to find out how to apply

  • Read any instructions that are sent with the application.
  • If you have to fill in a form, follow the instructions clearly. If you have any problems filling in the form, contact the trust directly.

Be clear about what you need the money for and how much you need

  • Be concise. Write enough to say why you need the funding and how you match the criteria, but keep it short enough to be easy to read.
  • If you have to fill in a form, avoid using extra sheets of paper unless it allows you to do so or if you feel it is absolutely necessary.

Try and make your application relevant to the trust to which you are applying

  • Don’t send standard letters to several different trusts.
  • It may be best to target your applications to a maximum of five or six trusts, rather than send out a large number of applications. This means you can spend more time on each, which should enable you to produce better quality applications.

Indicate how you propose to obtain all the funds you need

  • Give a brief summary of the total amount you need and how you propose to raise this amount.
  • Give details of other sources of funding you have approached or will approach.
  • Many trusts give relatively small grants (for example, £100 - £200). You may need to apply to several in order to raise the full amount.

Ask for a realistic amount of money

  • Check the details of the trust’s criteria and the amounts of the grants given.

Always check your application before you send it

  • If possible, get someone else to check it for you.

Make sure your application arrives on time

  • Some trust selection panels meet only once or twice a year to consider applications. Some trusts have deadlines for receiving applications.
  • Because of the volume of applications they receive, some trusts are unable to acknowledge that they have received your application. If you’d like acknowledgement, send a self-addressed envelope or reply-paid postcard.

Keep copies of your applications and any further contact you have with the trusts. If you have any queries about your application, you can contact them again. Bear in mind that they may not have a staffed office that deals with day-to-day enquiries so it may take a while to get a response.

Disability Rights UK is unable to contact trusts on behalf of applicants.

Part B

This list of trusts is divided into sections according to the people they aim to help. Remember you may fit into more than one category. All application forms and further information can be obtained by contacting the trust directly. Make sure you read the full information given and contact the trust for additional information before deciding whether to apply. It is best to enclose a self-addressed envelope (SAE) with all postal correspondence.

The following trusts are not the only ones that may be able to help you. At the end of this factsheet there are details of websites and books you can consult for further sources of funding.

1. Trusts that help disabled students

British Kidney Patient Association

St Mary's Close, Turk Street, Alton GU34 1EF Tel: 01420 541 424 Fax: 01420 89438

Email: info@britishkidney-pa.co.uk

Web:  www.britishkidney-pa.co.uk/patient-support/grants/patient-grants

One-off grants to help with the cost of university or college fees where appropriate, or the cost of books, equipment, lodgings or other expenses involved with educational and job opportunities. These grants are given to people with kidney disease of UK nationality. Applications should be submitted by a kidney unit social worker or a member of the kidney care team and are considered daily.

Dyslexia Action Learning Fund

Web: www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk

The Dyslexia Action Learning Fund provides funds to pay for specialist tuition at Dyslexia Action Centres for those with specific learning and literacy difficulties. To find out more about it, please contact your nearest learning centre: www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/find-us.

Gardner’s Trust for the Blind

117 Charter House Street, London EC1M 6AA

Tel: 020 7253 3757

The trust gives one-off grants to people who are registered visually impaired and live in England or Wales. The maximum amount of grant that can be awarded is £600. These grants can be used for assistive technology, course fees and household equipment.  Applications can be submitted by the individual or by a third party, but a third party must confirm the visual impairment and that the grant is needed. In the first instance applications should be made by letter, summarising the need, and then a full application form will be sent out. The committee meets four times a year.

Joseph Levy Foundation

1 Bell Street, London NW1 5BY

Tel: 020 7616 1200

Email: info@jlf.org.uk

Web: www.jlf.org.uk

The fund can give financial assistance to adults with Cystic Fibrosis to develop their career through further or higher education or professional qualifications. Note: The Foundation is not currently accepting unsolicited applications, but you are advised to check their website for any changes to the fund’s policy.

The Matthew Trust

PO Box 604, London SW6 3AG

Tel: 020 7736 5976 

Email: amt@matthewtrust.org

Web: www.matthewtrust.org

One-off grants for people aged 16 to 25 with mental health conditions. Examples of support include; providing equipment and helping with second chance learning and skills training. Applications should only be made through professionals such as keyworkers, mental health social workers, teachers, representatives of a registered charity or medical practitioner. All applications must be made in writing by a letter, fax or e-mail. All other sources of funding, statutory and voluntary, must be tried and a care programme must be established before applying.

Multiple Sclerosis Society

The Grants Team, MS National Centre, 372 Edgware Road, Cricklewood, London NW2 6ND

Tel: 020 8438 0700 Fax: 020 8438 0701

Email: grants@mssociety.org.uk

Web: www.mssociety.org.uk

The MS Society has two grants available for people with MS and their carers. These can help with adaptations to accommodation, wheelchairs and other specialised equipment. Grants are also available to aid the personal development of people providing care, which can include education grants. To find out more about financial assistance from the MS Society, contact your local branch or the grants team at the MS Society’s national office in London. You must complete an application form which can be downloaded from their website, provide a letter of support from a health or social care professional and provide two quotes for the item you are requesting. It can take up to 12 weeks for a decision to be made.

Chrohns & Colitis UK

Personal Grants Fund Secretary

PO Box 334, St Albans, Herts AL1 2WA

Tel: 0800 011 4701 or 01727 759654

Email: julia.devereux@crohnsandcolitis.org.uk

Web: www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk

Chrohns & Colitis UK offer two kinds of grants to people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Personal grants are available of up to £500 to people with Chrohn’s Disease for a need arising as a consequence of the condition such as bedding, fridge or washing machine/dryer. The educational and vocational grant helps to cover the costs of education and training of up to £1,000. To receive funding you must have additional support needs relating to your full or part-time education as a direct result of your IBD. Funding is available for books and course material/equipment, tuition fees, additional cost of university or college en-suite accommodation and travel passes. Grants are usually paid direct to the university or supplier. You can’t apply for more than one grant every five years. You must complete an application form which can be downloaded from their website. A timetable outlining deadlines for applications is available on the website.

Snowdon Trust

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

Tel: 01403 732 899

Email: info@snowdontrust.org

Web: www.snowdontrust.org

The scheme primarily helps students with a physical or sensory impairment in further or higher education or those training towards employment.  Bursaries are made for one or two years and do not normally exceed £2,500. Awards are made for equipment, travel, sign language interpreters, notetakers, special accommodation needs and other disability-related costs not met by statutory bodies. Applications are considered twice a year. Applications can be made from 1 February to 31 August for the academic year starting in September. Applications received by 31 May are reviewed by a panel in July. Later applications are reviewed by a panel in October.

Student Health Association

Email: trish@studenthealthassociation.co.uk

Web: www.studenthealthassociation.co.uk/

Grants of up to £500 are made to full-time (or nearly full-time) higher education students for support needs related to their impairment or medical condition. They expect students to apply for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) before applying to their Assistance Fund. Students who are disabled but not entitled to receive DSAs are more likely to be awarded a grant. Students can apply for assistance in purchasing e.g. educational aids such as specialist computer equipment, extra travel costs, special chairs or other aids and the cost of note-takers or signers. Applications should be made through their website and supporting evidence must be emailed to shaaf@studenthealthassociation.co.uk. Deadlines for applications are 1 March, 1 June, and 1 November. It takes about a month after the deadline to finalise awards.

2. Trusts that help disabled students (among other people)

Lawrence Atwell’s Charity

Tel: 020 7213 0561

Email: atwell@skinners.org.uk

Web: www.skinnershall.co.uk/charities/lawrence-atwell-charity.htm

The charity supports those engaged in vocational training or ‘first step’ qualifications that help people become qualified for work. Applicants must be British citizens or refugees with full residency, and be aged between 16 and 26 years old. Applicants must demonstrate they are from a low-income background (parental income will be taken into consideration if the applicant is a dependant). The grants can range from £100 to £1,500. You can a receive a one off award or a series of payments across the duration of the course. They consider grants for tuition fees, examination fees, general expenses during training such as accommodation, food, travel to college, bill. To apply, you must complete an online application form. It can take at least 8 weeks for a decision to be made.

The Thomas Wall Trust

8 Dowgate Hill, London EC4R 2SP

Web: www.thomaswalltrust.org.uk

Email: information@thomaswalltrust.org.uk 

Grants are aimed at supporting people who want to break through barriers in their lives and life chances, especially through technical or skill-based training to improve their prospects of finding paid work. You can apply for a grant of up to £1000 towards fees, equipment or any other relevant study costs. . Applicants must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years, prior to the start of their course. The Trust is particularly interested in supporting people who are studying part-time, and those who can show they are investing in their plans for the future. To apply, you must complete an online application form.

3. Trusts that help women in education

Funds for Women Graduates - FFWG Charitable Foundation

The Grants Administrator, Mrs J F Collett-Flatt, 4 St Michaels Gate, Shrewsbury, SY1 2HL

Tel: 01743 383047

Email: grants@ffwg.org.uk

Web:  http://ffwg.org.uk

The FFWG offers Foundation Grants to women on postgraduate course Grants will only be given for the final year of a PhD or D.Phil. Grants are intended to contribute towards living expenses, not fees, while studying or undertaking research at an approved higher education institution in Great Britain. The student’s nationality does not matter and there is no age limit.  Grants are offered on a needs basis and the maximum amount is £6,000. FFWG also offers Emergency Grants to graduate women who face an unforeseen financial crisis whilst engaged in study or research. Emergency grants are offered on a needs basis twice a year, in May and November, and the maximum amount is £2,500.

Hilda Martindale Educational Trust

Secretary to the Hilda Martindale Trust, Royal Holloway University of London

Egham TW20 0EX

Tel: 01784 434 455

Email: HildaMartindaleTrust@rhul.ac.uk

The Trust aims to help women towards training or studying for a career in a profession where women are underrepresented. The maximum award is £3,000. The closing date for application forms is 8 February 2017.

4. Trusts that help students doing specific courses, including postgraduate courses

Construction Youth Trust

The Building Centre, 26 Store Street,

London, WC1E 7BT

Tel: 020 7467 9540  Fax: 020 7631 3760

Email: hello@constructionyouth.org.uk

Web: www.constructionyouth.org.uk

The trust helps financially disadvantaged young people who face barriers to accessing opportunities in the construction industry.

The trust delivers free courses that provide work experience as well as careers advice and practical training.

Grace Wyndham Goldie (BBC) Trust Fund

Broadcasting House, Cardiff CF5 2YQ

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/charityappeals/about/grants/grace-wyndham-goldie

Small grants are made towards the cost of education such, as travelling expenses, books and additions to educational awards. Grants are also made for the relief of hardship not covered by help from other sources. Awards are made to people who are (or have been) engaged in broadcasting television or radio, or an associated activity, as well as their children and dependants. Application forms can be downloaded on the website and need to be submitted by 31 July for consideration by the Trustees in September.

The Stationers' Foundation

Administrator, The Stationers’ Foundation, Stationers' Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London, EC4M 7DD

Tel: 020 7246 0990

Email: foundation@stationers.org

Web: www.stationers.org/scholarships-awards.html

The Foundation gives grants to UK residents under the age of 25 who wish to enter the printing, stationery or newspaper makers’ trade or any allied industry. Awards average £2,000 each. Financial assistance is also available towards the cost of starting or continuing education at college or university. Preference is given to students intending to enter the Communications and Contents industries after completing their courses. The application form can be downloaded from the website. The deadline for applications is 31 August 2017. The Foundation also offers prizes and scholarships.

Saint Luke’s College Foundation

Dr David Benzie, 15 St Maryhaye, Tavistock, Devon PL19 8LR

Tel: 01822 613 143     

Email: director@st-lukes-foundation.org.uk

Web: www.st-lukes-foundation.org.uk

The Foundation offers awards to students for postgraduate studies in the fields of religious education and theology, normally studies leading to a taught or research Master’s degree or a PhD. Grants can help with the cost of fees, subsistence, travel, books, research, equipment and study aids such as amanuensis. There is no age limit. Applications can only be made between January and 1st May each year. Funds are limited but the Foundation is keen to hear about and provide for unmet needs in the fields of theology and religious education. Application packs are sent out on request. Awards are announced on 30 June 2017.

The Engineers Trust

Wax Chandlers Hall, 6 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7AD

Tel: 020 7726 4830

Email: clerk@engineerscompany.org.uk

Website: www.engineerscompany.org.uk

The Engineers Trust is the charitable trust of the Worshipful Company of Engineers. The charity gives grants and assists in the support of hardship experienced by engineers, particularly whilst in education. There is no standard application form for grants. The applications are made in writing in any format to the contact details above.

5. Trusts that help disabled students living or studying in certain regions or establishments


County Durham Community Foundation

County Durham Community Foundation, Victoria House, Whitfield Court, St John’s Road, Meadowfield Industrial Estate, Durham DH7 8XL

Tel: 0191 378 6340

Email: info@cdcf.org.uk

Website: www.cdcf.org.uk

County Durham Community Foundation is an independent grant-making charity, which can provide support for disabled individuals and families in need in County Durham and surrounding areas.


The Cambrian Education Foundation for Deaf Children

Mrs Pamela Brown, Montreux, 30 Lon Cedwyn, Sketty, Swansea SA2 0TH

Tel: 01792 207 628

Web: www.cambrianeducationalfoundationfordeafchildren.org.uk

The foundation helps hearing impaired students in further and higher education. Applicants must be resident in Wales or have parents living in Wales. One-off grants are available up to a maximum of £500 and applications must be supported in writing by a teacher/tutor. Applications are considered throughout the year.


Holywood Trust

Hestan House, Crichton Business Park, Bankend Road, Dumfries DG1 4TA

Tel: 01387 269 176 Fax: 01387 269 175

Email: funds@holywood-trust.org.uk

Web: www.holywood-trust.org.uk

The trust provides grants to young people aged between 15 and 25, who are resident in Dumfries and Galloway. Preference is given to people with health conditions or experiencing social disadvantage. Grants can include a contribution towards college or university expenses. The application form can be downloaded from their website or you can telephone the trust to request an application form. The trust will not support postgraduate courses or second degree courses.

Miss Gertrude Muriel Pattullo Advancement Award Scheme

Help Unit, Blackadders Solicitors

30-34 Reform Street, Dundee DD1 1RJ

Tel: 01382 229 222

Email: toni.mcnicoll@blackadders.co.uk

The scheme helps those with a physical impairment between the ages of 16 and 25 residing in Dundee and Angus.

John Watson’s Trust

Laura Campbell, Trust Administrator, Signet Library, Parliament Square Edinburgh EH1 1RF

Tel: 0131 225 0658     

Email: lcampbell@wssociety.co.uk

Website: http://www.wssociety.co.uk/charities/jwt/

The trust will give grants to individuals under 21 who have a physical impairment or learning disability and are in education. Grants may be awarded for specialist tuition, equipment, bus passes and college expenses. Grant amounts range from £30 to £2,000.  Applicants must be from Scotland and preference is given to those living in Edinburgh and the Lothian region. The deadlines to apply for a grant in 2017 are 26 May, 4 August and 3 November. Applications must include a supporting letter from a professional such as a teacher, social worker or a GP.

Webster and Davidson Mortification for the Blind

N Barclay, Thorntons Law LLP, Whitehall House, 33 Yeaman Shore, Dundee DD1 4BJ

Tel: 01382 229 111

Email: gfulton@thorntons-law.co.uk

Website: www.thorntons-law.co.uk

The trust makes awards to blind and partially sighted people to support their learning and appreciation of music. This is generally for secondary level of school study or further or higher education. Bursaries are usually made for one year, with the possibility of renewal at the Trustees' discretion. Preference will is given to people normally resident in Scotland. The closing date for application forms is 31 May and 30 November each year.

6. Other funds

Rotary clubs and other ‘service in the community’ clubs

Local clubs and organisations have helped many students. Your local library will have a list of clubs and names of contacts.

Hardship Fund (England)
Discretionary Fund (Scotland)
Financial Contingency Funds Scheme (Wales)
Support Fund (Northern Ireland)

These schemes are broadly similar across the UK. Each institution administers these funds, which are available to support part-time and full-time students experiencing financial hardship. In England and Wales, priority is given to mature students, disabled students, final year students and care leavers over the age of 18. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, it is entirely up to the individual college or university how the funds are distributed. These funds can also be used to pay towards the cost of initial diagnostic assessments for dyslexia. Contact the student support officer responsible for financial advice to get an application form.

7. Additional information

For details of other trusts or charities, you can search through the books and directories or contact the organisations listed below. Most of the resources mentioned should also be available in your college library or local reference library.

Directory of Social Change

The following directories are published by the Directory of Social Change and are available directly from this organisation.  You can also access these books at the Directory of Social Change’s reference library, based at the address below.

352 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA

Tel: 0207 697 4200 Email: cs@dsc.org.uk

Website: www.dsc.org.uk

A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need 2016/17

Trusts that help with all types of expenses, not just for education

The Guide to Educational Grants 2016/17

A guide to educational grants for individuals

Money Saving Expert.com


Consumer website with tips for students on cutting costs, finding the best deals and saving money.

Money 4 Med Students

Website: www.rmbf.org/medical-students/

The online money clinic provides information and advice to medical students on managing their finances. This includes sources of funding such as charitable trusts.

Other organisations’ lists

Other voluntary organisations or advice centres may have their own lists of trusts to help specific individuals. For example, the Royal National Institute of Blind People www.rnib.org.uk produces a factsheet, which lists grant-awarding charities that may assist blind and partially sighted students,


It is sometimes possible to get sponsorship from employers to do courses, either if you already work for them or if you agree to work for them after you have finished your course. This type of sponsorship is usually only available for work-related courses. 

Disability Rights UK Student Helpline

For further information on the support that is available for disabled students, please contact our Disabled Students Helpline - 0330 995 0414.

We also produce a range of education factsheets covering these subjects and frequently asked questions which you can access through the education and skills section of our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

Information factsheets

All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

26 May 2017

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