In 2020, Amina MWRC set up a financial advocacy project and formal Hardship Fund to support Muslim women and BME women facing significant financial difficulty.
Taking into account the gender pay-gap and reliance on women in caring roles, women are statistically less likely to be financially independent. Adding to these circumstances, financial abuse, no recourse to public funds, lack of support networks and less work experience, we can see a widening gap in financial provision for vulnerable groups.
This was exacerbated during lockdown where income streams were reduced for large numbers of people who are still recovering from the impact mentally and financially. The impact of this period of time is reflected in, but not necessarily the main cause of, many of our clients’ cases.
The aim of the project is to improve all women’s access to financial security in crisis and also longer-term financial health and independence. The financial advocacy officer at Amina is the link between our Helpline and Employability services. They provide guidance and support to make sure financial security is met in order for other holistic programs to be of benefit.
The Hardship Fund is a dedicated portion of donations managed by Amina that women in adverse circumstances can apply. The Fund is used for women in moments of intense distress and deprivation, where they cannot access other means of support and all other avenues for aid have been explored. The money distributed via the Hardship Fund has previously been used for:
- Hotel or B&B stays to help women escape domestic violence when there are no shelter spaces or social housing available
- Halal food to feed women (and their children) where there is none available via food banks
- Warm clothes for the winter months
- Transport to access important legal meetings
- Large and unexpected bills or arrears
We also carried out initiatives related to financial challenges such as care packages and an Eid Toy Drive for our service user demographic.
In the period 2020-21, 115 have accessed the financial advocacy service and 93 women have received hardship funds.
Here is a case study of one of our beneficiaries:
Z contacted Amina in November 2020. She wanted to leave home after her husband had attacked her. Z was on a spousal visa and had no money of her own. Her husband controlled all the bank accounts, and she could not access them. Police Scotland had tried getting Z a space in refuge, but shelters were closed due to COVID restrictions over the weekend. Money from the Hardship Fund allowed Z to stay in a hotel over the weekend until Amina could access services for her. She would have been homeless otherwise. An additional £80 from the Hardship Fund meant Z could have essential food and hygiene products.
When the new week began, Women’s Aid services could only help if she made a Domestic Violence Concession application to the Home Office, so she could be provided with a temporary visa and therefore access public services. While these legal applications were underway, the Hardship Fund continued to pay for Z to have somewhere to stay. After 5 days, Z received her temporary visa, was able to access longer term shelter through Women’s Aid and apply for Universal Credit. Without the Hardship Fund, Z would have been without food, shelter, or the opportunity to connect with a lawyer. Amina’s Hardship Fund allowed her to stay safe and begin planning for a future without domestic abuse.
Our hardship fund runs on donations. Due to the number of cases, we have taken on this year we are running low on funds and would encourage anyone who can to donate to Amina MWRC via our website here: https://mwrc.org.uk/support-us/donate
We can guarantee that 100% donations go to women in need.
Please like and follow our social media pages to be kept up to date with any of our future campaigns and work and invite others to do the same. Our Eid Toy Drive will be running again in April and we will be putting a call out for donations nearer the time.
If you know of anyone who may benefit from our freephone helpline or other services, the lines are open from 10am–4pm Mon to Fri. We have bilingual volunteers but can organise interpreters where needed for the initial call.
Our website can be found at www.mwrc.org.uk
We can be found on multiple social media platforms as below: