Local charity grants available for Wakefield from Charity of Joseph Harrison

The Charity of Joseph Harrison has a simple motto when it comes to handing out community grants.

Promoted by The Charity of Joseph Harrison
Friday, 10th September 2021, 7:00 am
The Wakefield-based charity helps local residents who have been diagnosed with an enduring mental health issue or a learning disability.

“If you don’t ask, we don’t know what you need,’’ charity chair Wendy Plummer said.

The Wakefield-based charity helps local residents who have been diagnosed with an enduring mental health issue or a learning disability.

“I think mental health is a growing problem everywhere with the ever-changing pressures of modern life and changes to the benefits system,’’ Mrs Plummer said.

The grants tend to be for amounts between £500 and £1800 and recipients use them to pay for holidays, buy kitchen equipment, carpets, beds, sofas, computers, craft equipment, or to take driving lessons.

Mrs Plummer said she had been surprised by the increasing demand for grants for items that most people would consider basic requirements, like white goods, decent beds, and home furnishings.

The charity handed out 76 grants to individuals and 10 grants to groups last year.

“The demand for grants has remained reasonably constant in recent years,” Mrs Plummer said.

“As our recipients have a diagnosed mental health or learning disability, bids are made on their behalf, and with the demise in funding for local groups and organisations, some people struggle to have the capacity to apply.’’

The charity has tried to make the application process as simple as possible. Applicants have only two criteria that they need to meet.

Recipients must pay their council tax to Wakefield Council and recipients must have a diagnosed, enduring mental health or learning disability.

“We try to keep the process simple,’’ Mrs Plummer said.

“Applicants just need to send one side of A4, listing name, address, telephone number, disability, what the grant is for and how it will benefit the recipient to the Charity’s PO Box with a photocopy of evidence of disability.’’

Joseph Harrison, a Surrey man whom the charity is named after, was a friend of the first medical director of Stanley Royd Asylum in Wakefield.

Harrison donated £5000 to buy land for the patients to work on to “provide gainful occupation and improved food for inpatients”.

The charity was set up in 1841 to also aid patients and their families on discharge as often the patients returned to a life of abject poverty, unable to pay rent that ended up in families living on the street.

“The charity was originally administered by the hospital almoner,” Mrs Plummer said.

“Money was also allocated for trips out, and a ‘silver 6 pence for workers’ on feast days, such as Easter.

“The charity was suspended in 1947 when the cash ran out. It was when the large psychiatric hospitals were closed in the early 2000s - and the land sold off for building - that the charity was allocated a share of the money.’’

The charity invested that money and the dividends now fund these grant projects.

Despite low interest rates affecting revenue the charity expects to hand out more than £60,000 in grants this year.

Applications close for the latest round of grants at the end of September each year. The charity Trustee Board will meet at the end of November to consider all applications with cheques sent to recipients before Christmas.

Mrs Plummer said that despite the official close of applications being on September 30 the Trustees would consider all applications made before its November meeting.