Third Sector Awards 2015: Breakthrough of the Year - Winner: Quaker Social Action for Down to Earth

Awarded to an organisation that has showcased something new or different. Areas could include supporter and/or donor engagement, extending the reach of the charity or introducing a new way of working

Down to Earth: funeral help to people on low incomes
Down to Earth: funeral help to people on low incomes

What is the project?

Funeral costs have risen by 87 per cent in the last decade, which has hit poorer people the hardest. The anti-poverty charity Quaker Social Action's Down to Earth project is the first project in the UK to give immediate practical support to people on low incomes who are planning funerals. The project offers a free advocacy and advice service - everything from months of casework to a five-minute phone call.

How is the project delivered?

Three people provide face-to-face and remote advocacy and advice to people across the UK, including help with applications for state support and benevolent funds. Future plans include setting up a hardship fund, providing financial advice after a funeral and helping the Church of Scotland adapt the project for Scotland.

How effective has it been?

Down to Earth has supported 824 people since 2010, and this year has already exceeded its annual target of 220 clients. The team provided 565.3 hours of support last year. The service saves each client an average of £2,237 on funeral costs and has secured £61,531 in statutory and voluntary grants for service users.

What did the judges say?

David Floyd, managing director of the community interest company Social Spider, said it was an "unusual and unfashionable, but necessary project".


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