Get help to weather the storm – Wandsworth Council’s Discretionary Social Fund is open for local residents facing hardship


  • Local charities seeing a surge in need have created a campaign to raise awareness of crisis help available for people facing hardship from Wandsworth Council.
  • The campaign urges local people whose income doesn’t cover the cost of essentials to #GetHelpToWeatherTheStorm.
  • The campaign highlights that residents with No Recourse to Public Funds, working families and people waiting for first payment of universal credit are all eligible for Wandsworth Council’s scheme , called the Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund.

As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic hits those on low income hardest, local charities have come together to urge people who have been pulled into hardship to apply for Wandsworth Council’s Discretionary Social Fund (WDSF).

Through this local welfare assistance scheme, Wandsworth residents can apply for emergency help towards:

  • Costs of food and utilities (Sainsburys and Asda supermarket vouchers, and gas/electricity grants for prepayment meters
  • Costs of essential white goods and furniture (such as fridge, cooker, bed, table and chairs)
  • Rent costs (Discretionary Housing Payment)

At the moment residents can only apply online, but local charities hope the Council will provide a phone service to help people who are unable to apply online. Residents can receive up to three grants in the next six months, and information can be found on the Council’s website:

Dan Frith, Wandsworth Foodbank says: “During lockdown we’ve seen the need for our food bank more than double, and we’ve already provided more than 3000 emergency food parcels to local people who can’t afford enough food for themselves and their families. We’re really glad to help, but it’s not right that anyone should have to rely on charity for their basic needs. No charity can replace the dignity of being able to buy your own food.

“It’s vital that local people know about and can access crisis provision from their local Council, so they can get help to weather the storm in these unprecedented times.”

Mary-Ann Foxwell, Citizens Advice Wandsworth says: “Unprecedented numbers of local residents are coming to us because they don’t have enough money to live on. Perhaps their wages aren’t being paid in full, or they have lost their job and are experiencing delays in getting benefits paid correctly, or their benefit payment just isn’t enough to cover their family’s basic living expenses.

“Low wages and high costs have left many people unable to save for hard times like these, and we are keen that residents without a safety-net know they can apply for this extra help from Wandsworth Council.”

Aaron Barbour, Katherine Low Settlement says: “The Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund is a vital lifeline for many local residents who are struggling to weather this Covid-19 storm. This Fund can help address people’s hardship by putting food on the table, paying for electric and gas and ensuring a roof over their head. We’d encourage all local people who need it to make an application via the Council’s website – including families who have No Recourse to Public Funds, who can now also get help from this Fund.

“We’ve seen how the lockdown has made many people’s life a misery, both economically and emotionally. Local charities, community groups and the Council have sprung into action, and this Discretionary Fund is another important piece of the support jigsaw.”

Patrick Marples, South West London Law Centres says: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on many people’s incomes, with many local people unable to afford essential costs, including rent. Although evictions have been stopped until August, it’s vital that people can keep paying their rent if we’re to avoid a tsunami of evictions in the autumn. We hope many people will able to get help towards rent and other essential costs from Wandsworth Council’s Discretionary Social Fund, when they need it most.”

Louise Christie, Wandsworth Carers’ Centre says: “Since lockdown began, we’ve seen a significant increase, particularly in the amount of foodbank referrals we’re making and the advice we’re giving around finances and benefits. When we speak to Carers, it’s clear that for a large number the pandemic has had, and continues to have, a real impact on their finances.

“Our support workers regularly assist our Carers in applying for Discretionary Social Fund payments or vouchers in times of crisis, but it is important that anyone who needs help is aware that it’s available and how to access it.”


Contact Sarah Chapman at Wandsworth Foodbank on 07947 274512 or [email protected]


About Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund

  • Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund is the name of the local welfare assistance scheme set up in 2013 when national Government decentralised crisis help to local authorities.
  • It comprises three elements: Crisis Grant (supermarket vouchers and gas/electricity grant for prepayment meters), Community Care Grant (essential white goods and furniture), and Discretionary Housing Payment (grant towards rent costs).
  • More information here:

About Wandsworth Foodbank

  • Wandsworth Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust national network of food banks, and provides emergency food, support and advice to local people referred to us. The Foodbank’s five centres are currently closed due to the pandemic, so the team is delivering emergency food to people’s homes across the Borough instead. Wandsworth Foodbank has a network of 300 local voucher partners who refer people in need, including GPs and health visitors, schools, children’s centres, advice agencies, housing associations, local charities, Wandsworth Council and Jobcentres. Visit

About South West London Law Centres

  • South West London Law Centres helps local people on low incomes across south-west London to access justice and uphold their everyday rights. Our expert advisers provide free and impartial legal advice on social justice issues, including housing, employment, debt, benefits and asylum. Without the free or low-cost legal services our Law Centre provides, many local people would be locked out of accessing justice, because they can’t afford a lawyer. Visit:

About Katherine Low Settlement

  • Katherine Low Settlement is a busy, local charity that has been serving Battersea and the wider Wandsworth community since 1924. We are dedicated to building stronger communities and enable people to challenge and find ways out of poverty and isolation. Visit: 

About Citizens Advice Wandsworth

  • Citizens Advice Wandsworth is an independent charity that provides information, advice and support. We also work to improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives. We help people get the support they need and enable them to manage their lives better in times of crisis. Life is complicated and things can go wrong for all of us. Our free, impartial advice is crucial and highly valuable to individuals, the Council, government and society as a whole. We’re a member of Citizens Advice, a network of over 300 advice service charities in over 3,300 locations in England and Wales. Visit:

About Wandsworth Carers’ Centre

  • Wandsworth Carers’ Centre is a registered charity and limited company that has been providing support to unpaid Carers in Wandsworth since 1995. Wandsworth Carers’ Centre is the lead provider of Carers Partnership Wandsworth. Visit

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