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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

Kidney Care UK

3 The Windmills, St Mary's Close, Turk Street, Alton GU34 1EF

Tel: 01420 541424

Email: info@kidneycareuk.org

Web:  www.kidneycareuk.org/get-support/financial-support

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.

Gardner’s Trust for the Blind

Suite 2, The Old Farmhouse, Stansted Court Yard, Parsonage Road, Hertfordshire, CM22 6PU

Tel: 020 7253 3757

Email: gardeners@smithfield-accountants.co.uk

The trust gives one-off grants to people who are registered blind or partially sighted and live in the UK. The maximum amount of grant that can be awarded is £600. These grants can be used for assistive technology, education or training costs and household equipment. Applications must be supported and submitted by a professional person on your behalf who must confirm the visual impairment and that the grant is needed. You must contact the Trust to request an application form. In 2022, the Trust considers applications in February, May, August and November.

Cystic Fibrosis Trust

One Aldgate, Second Floor, London, EC3N 1RE

Tel: 020 3795 1555

Email: jlef@cysticfibrosis.org.uk  

Web:   www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk

The Joseph Levy Education Fund helps young adults over the age of 18 with Cystic Fibrosis with costs of higher education, vocational training or other professional qualifications. It also accepts application from people with Cystic Fibrosis aged 16 or 17 who are not moving into formal further education and wish to undertake vocational training instead. Applications are accepted all year round, but the Panel only considers them twice a year. Applications received by 31 May are considered in June and those received by 30 November are considered in December.

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 Snowdon Trust grant 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 £5,000. Awards are made for computer equipment and adaptive software, 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. You can apply by completing an online application form or by downloading the application form from the website.

The Trust also offers disabled students scholarships of up to £30,000 towards Masters fees and living expenses. It has been designed to identify and accelerate disabled students who have the ability create change and influence others.

Student Health Association

Email: Complete the online contact form

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

Skinners’ Hall, 8 Dowgate Hill, London, EC4R 2SP

Tel: 020 7213 0561

Email: atwell@skinners.org.uk

Web: www.skinners.org.uk/grants-and-trusts/atwell  

The charity supports young people in England and Wales to gain vocational accredited qualifications. Grants of up to £1,500 are available to people aged between 16 and 26 years old, to take courses up to a level 3 that will help them move into employment. Applicants must demonstrate they are from a low-income background (parental income will be taken into consideration if the applicant is a dependant). 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, childcare and living costs. To apply, you must complete an online application form. There are no applications deadlines, so you can apply at any time. It can take at least 4 to 6 weeks for a decision to be made.

Atwell’s charity also funds programmes of work which support young people who are not in employment, education, or training to help them move into work. Grants of up to £10,000 is available, with awards for three years open to consideration.

The Thomas Wall Trust

Five Kings House, 1 Queen Street Place, London, EC4R 1QS

Web: www.thomaswalltrust.org.uk

Email: Complete the online contact form

The charity supports people aged 18 or over who face financial hardship which prevents them from entering employment or education. Grants of up to £1,500 are available to take accredited vocational training up to a level 3 and can be used towards fees, equipment, travel, 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 and have been unemployed for at least 6 months within the last 2 years. 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:  www.ffwg.org.uk

The FFWG offers Foundation Grants to women on postgraduate courses. Grants are only 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 and awarded in July for the following academic year.

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

Web: www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studying-here/fees-and-funding/undergraduate/scholarships-and-bursaries/scholarships/hilda-martindale-trust-awards/

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. You will need to apply online. The application deadline for 2022/23 has now passed. The deadline for 2023/24 was still to be announced at the time of writing.

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

Construction Youth Trust

Bermondsey Campus, 37 Clements Road, London, SE16 4EE

Tel: 020 7467 9540 

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

The Trustees, Grace Wyndham Goldie (BBC) Trust Fund, Pension and Benefits Centre, BBC Cymru Wales, Central Square, Cardiff, CF10 1FT

Tel: 029 2032 2811

Email: mypension@bbc.co.uk

Web: www.bbc.co.uk/charityappeals/appeals/grants/grace-wyndham-goldie

Grants are made towards educational costs to relieve short term hardship. 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 7248 2934

Email: foundation@stationers.org

Web: https://stationers.org/education-charity/educating-for-the-future.html

The Stationers’ Foundation offers a number of scholarships and awards to those whose courses relate to the Communications and Content Industries.

The Foundation gives grants to UK residents under the age of 25 who intend to pursue a course of study associated with printing, bookbinding book, paper and archive conservation, stationery, papermaking, publishing, book selling or newspaper production. Awards average £2,000 each.

There is also a postgraduate bursary scheme which offers 15 annual awards for students on postgraduate courses that are related to the Communication and Content industries. Successful students receive a bursary of up to £6’000.

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 29 July 2022.

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@StLukesCF.org.uk

Web: https://stlukescf.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 each year.

The Engineers Trust

The Worshipful Company of Engineers Charitable Trust Fund, Saddlers’ House, 44 Gutter Lane, London, EC2V 6BR

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 207628

Web: www.cambrianeducationalfoundationfordeafchildren.org.uk

The foundation helps hearing impaired students under the age of 25 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 will need to be made through a new online Grants Management System.

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

James Hamilton, The John Watson’s 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 up to and including 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 are 21 January 2022, 11 March 2022, 27 May 2022, 29 July 2022, and 28 October 2022. To apply, you must complete an online application form. 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 229111

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 is given to people normally resident in Scotland. The closing date for application forms is 31 March 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 at your university to apply.

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.

Suite 103, 1 Old Hall Street, London L3 9HG

Tel: 020 4526 59995 Email: cs@dsc.org.uk

Website: www.dsc.org.uk

 A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need 2022/23

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

• The Guide to Educational Grants 2020/21

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.

Royal Medical Benevolent Fund

Website:  https://rmbf.org/get-help/help-for-medical-students/medical-student-advi...

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  our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

Information factsheets

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

28 September 2022