Press Release: Nearly Half a million turn to charities for support, including basic essentials

With January often intensifying the difficulties people face financially & emotionally, new research has revealed nearly half a million people turned to charities for help in just one year.

Grant-giving organisations including Pharmacist Support face increased demand for financial and non-financial aid

With January often intensifying the difficulties people face financially and emotionally, new research has revealed nearly half a million people turned to charities for help in just one year.

National data from the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO) shows the number of people seeking help from charities and benevolent funds, because they have nowhere else to turn, has risen over the last four years. Pharmacist Support saw the number of acts of support it provided increase by 76% between 2016 and 2018. The charity has helped rising numbers of individuals in the profession dealing with problems in the workplace, personal issues such as bereavement or a relationship breakdown, financial difficulties, addiction and stress.

The ACO represents more than 120 charities, including Pharmacist Support, that provide financial assistance in the form of grants, that help thousands of people across the UK. A recent survey of members* showed more than 100,000 people applied for financial help in the last financial year. When extrapolated across its entire membership base, it is estimated ACO member charities will have supported at least 400,000 people in need. In 2015, the charities distributed more than £56million in grants. In comparison, this rose to more than £60million last year – £216million when applied to its entire membership base.

Since 2016 Pharmacist Support has provided over £700,000 in financial assistance to nearly 500 people and made over 1000 referrals for specialist debt, benefits and employment advice, securing £1.5m in gains for its beneficiaries.

The ACO is highlighting the work done by its member charities across the UK on 22 January 2020 by sharing the stories of people whose lives were turned around thanks to the support they received.

Its campaign, One Day Changes Lives, supported by Pharmacist Support, will show how an individual act of support granted by a charity one day can have a huge impact in improving someone’s life. Together, individual acts by ACO charities amount to a colossal positive impact on society.

Chief Executive at Pharmacist Support, Danielle Hunt, commented: “These are challenging times for the pharmacy sector, seen through the increase in demand for our support. Working with ACO, we can see that the many challenges we face are similar to other benevolent charities, who are also unfortunately seeing a growth in demand for their services. We value our work with other benevolent charities, and welcome campaigns such as this one, which bring us together to highlight the great work of charities such as ours. Crucially, it supports us to raise awareness and reach more individuals who are unaware of the free and confidential services available to them.”

Donal Watkin, Chief Executive at ACO, said: “These figures show the increasing levels of support needed by people with nowhere else to turn. Today we’re highlighting the big difference our members make to people’s lives through financial and non-financial help, and the role charities continue to play in the UK.”

Those supported by these charities were driven to reach out for help for reasons including a sudden illness or disability (for themselves or a family member), costs for unexpected household repairs or bills, being unable to pay the high costs associated with a health condition, poor mental health, being involved in an accident, family breakdown, or redundancy.

Whilst ACO members are predominantly grant-making organisations, they also provide practical assistance, employment support, befriending services, and mental health and wellbeing support. Members are seeing an increase in requests for non-financial aid, rising from 60,584 people helped in 2015 to 93,308 in 2018.

One of the people Pharmacist Support has been able to help is community locum pharmacist Lucy whose husband was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer.

“I was in great need of advice and support in what were very pressured personal circumstances. Pharmacist Support initially provided me with financial assistance as I had no income at all. I was also given direct assistance with debt and benefits advice which has been invaluable, as I would not have known how to cope with filling in, e.g. tax returns effectively or who to approach for benefits advice. 

“From a purely personal point of view, having access to a service like listening friends has sometimes felt like the only outlet I have for my personal anxieties and fears without worrying my own family more than they are already.

“Every time I contacted the team at Pharmacist Support, I have been treated professionally and courteously and have never felt that I am being judged. Indeed, their kindness has been a comfort in what have been difficult and occasionally bleak times. Knowing there is somebody at the end of the phone who will help is a massive psychological benefit.” 

Pharmacist Support is encouraging members of the public who have ever been helped by grant-giving charities to take part on Wednesday 22nd January and share examples of support on social media using the hashtag #OneDayChangesLives

If you are a pharmacist, former pharmacist, pre-registration pharmacist or MPharm student in need of support, please contact Pharmacist Support on 0808 168 2233, For further information visit


*Survey carried out by the Association of Charitable Organisations, June 2019, with 33 respondents across a membership base of 120 using data from their statements of the last financial year.