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What is the Hardship Fund?

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The Hardship Fund aims to alleviate poverty by providing small grants to people living with HIV in the UK. It's run by Terrence Higgins Trust and accessed through referral organisations.

The fund exists to assist where a specific HIV-related need presents itself. It cannot fill the gaps in statutory funding or help provide luxury goods.

Who can get help from the Hardship Fund?

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The Hardship Fund is open to anyone living with HIV who is currently experiencing financial difficulties. However, because need outstrips funding, applicants are means-tested to ensure that money reaches those most in need.

An individual with a weekly income of £100 or less (after housing costs) would be eligible for financial support. Couples and those with children are eligible for support with higher weekly incomes, but the level depends on the number of children.

Helping with financial hardship

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The Hardship Fund aims to support those clients who are experiencing the greatest level of hardship. This fund helps with:

  • Ordinary living expenses such as food, clothing or travel.
  • A review/reduction/suspension of benefits due to changes in the welfare system.
  • A period of ill health.
  • Moving into a new home for the first time.
  • Losing a job.
  • Entering older age, e.g. retiring or moving into a different form of accommodation.
  • Starting to claim a pension.
  • Change in accommodation.
  • Contribution towards white goods such as fridges, freezers or washing machines.

The fund can't help with the following:

  • Council fines, overpayment of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, court fees or immigration fees.
  • Travel or accommodation of any kind outside of the UK.
  • Respite care or holiday costs.
  • Funeral costs.
  • Credit card or loans repayments.
  • Prospective payments, e.g. rent deposit.
  • Any item for an individual without an HIV diagnosis.
  • Debt repayments/utility bills.
  • Gifts, e.g. birthday or Christmas presents.
  • Rent arrears or Council Tax arrears.
  • Professional training or education.
  • Items that are a statutory responsibility, e.g. glasses, dental work or urgent mobility equipment.
  • Other support that can be obtained through statutory support.

We reserve the right to reject an application even if the request is not stated above. Based on the information we receive, we assess the client’s financial situation to determine their eligibility to access the Hardship Fund. The application must be completed in full, with full supporting material provided. Because clients’ circumstances change on a regular basis, we insist on an update of information for each and every application.

How to apply for the Hardship Fund

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We work in partnership with referral organisations across the UK to ensure wide access to the fund for people living with HIV, while ensuring partner organisations provide local support.

All applications to the Fund must be submitted by registered referrers so that clients are given support in making their applications. Each referral organisation has a dedicated regional area from which they can accept applications. There are around 60 referral agencies across the UK. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not all agencies are fully operating and able to process applications. In this case, you can be referred by Terrence Higgins Trust.

To find out how to make an application or who your local referral organisation is, please contact our helpline THT Direct and one of our frontline advisers will signpost you. Depending on the geographical area that you live in, you can make the application either with us or another HIV support service. Calling the helpline is free of charge if you call from a landline. Calling from a mobile phone is usually free, but some mobile networks may charge for accessing 0808 numbers.