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Open Doors Grants Programme

People can become so isolated, a grant sends a very clear message that we are not giving up on them. Wilson, Project Manager

Opening Doors, Changing Lives

The Open Doors Programme provides cash grants alongside intensive support delivered to recipients by a range of partner organisations. It is administered by Family Action and supported by our corporate partner New Day.

In addition to living in poverty, recipients of Open Doors grants are experiencing at least two areas of Severe and Multiple Disadvantage, which may include:

    • domestic abuse
    • frequent contact with the criminal justice system (but not in prison)
    • homelessness or at imminent risk of being made homeless
    • serious mental health problems
    • sexual exploitation
    • substance misuse


Measuring the impact of cash grants on disadvantaged individuals and families

I feel like I am being given a second chance. I need to prove it to myself, to my family. They have done so much… I need to prove that I am still fighting. Andrew, Grant recipient

In March 2016 Family Action released the Opening Doors, Changing Lives report which represents a new approach to understanding the importance and impact of cash grant provision and how this can be delivered to achieve the most benefit to recipients and society as a whole. Previous evidence focuses on access and process, not on outcomes.

Open Doors Full Report

The evidence throughout the report demonstrates that Open Doors Grants impact upon a recipient’s entire life – from health to support networks, confidence to future resilience.

Key findings from the research show that:

    • All recipients felt they were helped by the grant – two thirds credited the grant as helping ‘enormously’
    • Open Doors Grants help make a house a home – the starting point for helping those receiving support to be safe and secure
    • After receiving a grant, 73% of recipients felt in control of their lives
    • Grants enhance the services of partner organisations, regardless of the nature of the support
    • Receiving a grant does not alleviate all of the problems faced by those experiencing SMD meaning they are still likely to need further support in the future. However, receiving a cash grant enables recipients to increase their resilience and sustain progress resulting from the support.
    • Grant recipients and staff feel that the Open Doors Programme is much easier to access than other welfare provision. Increased demand for support has been observed, coinciding with a reduction in Local Welfare Provision and longer term support services.
    • Grant recipients and staff feel that the likely impact of not receiving a grant to be declining mental and physical health, reliance on criminal activity and a general lack of safety. Provision from elsewhere is seen as unlikely.

The Open Doors Grants do not work in isolation – the Programme takes an holistic approach to providing small amounts of cash in conjunction with intensive support.

Combining this relatively small cash investment with support has a very significant impact on the grant recipient – the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Therefore, we call on policy makers, politicians and commissioners of services to understand small cash grants make a big difference for people with complex needs. Welfare reform and the provision of all support has maximised impact if delivered holistically and by agencies operating with a joined-up approach.

We also call on other grant providers to use the learning from this report to ensure that other schemes are designed creatively, using an holistic approach, in order to ensure they have maximum impact for recipients and they support and sustain the progress of other support services.

I feel confident that life can get better, I am on my way forwards… I am happy, the kids are happy to be here now and I know I can help myself now I have had a start. Thank you, really. Waseme, Grant recipient

Current Open Doors partners include:

  • Bethany Christian Trust
  • Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid
  • Cranstoun
  • Eaves (until 30 October 2015. Transferred to nia as of November 2015)
  • Family Action: Kent Intensive Family Services, Newham Families First, Tower Hamlets Building Bridges,
  • Bradford Advice Services
  • Hull Lighthouse
  • ISIS Women’s Centre/Nelson Trust
  • Local Solutions
  • Richmond Fellowship
  • Riverside
  • St Mungo’s
  • Street Talk
  • Together Women Project
  • [email protected]
  • WomenCentre

Opening Doors, Changing Lives Interim Report