As more and more people hear about the fund, and with Christmas approaching, we’ve had a big upsurge in applications for the fund. This week, for the first time, we were left without enough income to cover outgoing grants, and an urgent need to fundraise to keep up with demand. So we decided to ask everyone who’s received a grant from us so far if they’d be willing to share what it meant to them, to let potential donors know the difference their donation could make.
We made sure to reassure everyone that it was totally voluntary to share their story – we will never require people to tell us what they spent their grant on. But even so, we got plenty of responses immediately. Some just told us how much the grant had meant to them:
This grant was a wonderful help just before Christmas. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it.A
Unsurprisingly, several people told us that the pandemic in particular has left them in need of support:
With the pandemic and my youngest child being ill, I’ve not been able to work recently and have had very little income. Receiving this grant, quickly and easily like this, I think is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you for what you are doing.anon
The solidarity fund has meant everything to me. I’ve been pretty much on my own during the pandemic. Borrowing to bring a bit of calm into my situation. So the support has blessed me beyond measure. It’s virtually impossible to find help from anywhere. Thank you to everyone who’s rallying together for this cause. You’re awesome.M
Both these respondents mention being able to get support without conditions as a huge benefit of receiving cash from our fund. With pressures coming from all directions at the moment, and state support being heavily gatekept and restricted (where it exists at all), being able to receive help without having to supply endless documentation and proof, or jump through endless hoops of eligibility, clearly makes a huge difference to emotional wellbeing as well as practical finances.
Some people chose to tell us what they spent their grant on, which revealed a wide range of things, such as heating and warmth:
The fund has helped me greatly. l desperately needed a warm coat and was struggling to keep my home heated, so this has been a god send. l now have a lovely warm coat to wear… and it has helped greatly to be able to have my heating on for longer.R
Thankfully, there are some council services which will help with costs like heating alongside our fund. However, many respondents shared other things they’d spent their grants on which wouldn’t be covered by food and heating vouchers, but which nonetheless meet fundamental human needs like caring for family members:
I suffer severely with mental health issues and I’m on a low income. The help that I have had from the cambridge solidarity fund was a step to help me get a present for my little girl for Christmas.A
Thanks so much for the grant, it meant that I am able to travel to my grandma’s in Essex and spend Christmas there with her. She’s 87 and on her own, without a car and no money it would have been impossible to do this without the grant. It was always a family tradition to spend Christmas with her and grandad, grandad always dressed up at father Christmas throughout the generations for all the kids! Unfortunately he’s dead now, grandma is on her own and elderly and frail. I don’t know if there will be a chance to do this again considering her age and what’s going on, thank you so much.T
The grant I received from Cambridge solidarity fund really helped me be able to support my eldest son with getting him some revision cards and stationery to help with his preparation for his GCSE’s after he sat his mocks and was feeling like he needed more things to help him. Thank you so much.anon
Being able to give your child a gift for Christmas, helping your child with their revision, being able to go and see your grandparents at Christmas… these are all things that people on comfortable and stable incomes would take for granted. They highlight what solidarity funds can offer which other kinds of giving can’t: the ability to give people autonomy and decide what they need, and the recognition that survival is more than just food and heat.
After we tweeted a thread of these testimonials, donations started pouring in. We’re immensely grateful to everyone who donated. The fact that the testimonials were so successful shows that it doesn’t take much to move people to generosity – just a little understanding of people’s lives and circumstances. We’re hoping that can be part of what our fund can do, beyond meeting people’s immediate financial needs. If we can help those with high incomes understand the realities of income inequality in Cambridge, perhaps we can build a future where testimonials like these aren’t necessary.