From buying a bed for pupils who have been sleeping on the floor to paying for counselling for a child who has fled an abusive home with their mother, the Buttle charity is giving grants to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the UK.
And it is appealing to teachers to help identify pupils who could benefit from grants because, it says, teachers are often among the first to witness problems, whether it’s hunger, neglect, abuse or mental health issues.
The charity, which today publishes the findings of a survey of 1,000 frontline workers, including social workers and teachers, during the pandemic, says the coronavirus “is devastating the life chances of the UK’s most vulnerable children”.
Exclusive: Covid-19 'widens achievement gap to a gulf'
Closing the gap: Lockdown's challenge for teachers
Chief executive Joseph Howes said: “Teachers will often see problems much earlier on, and if there are individuals they’re seeing who could do with the help that Buttle provides for activities and support, then we ask them get in touch with us.
Coronavirus: Supporting disadvantaged pupils
“There has to be a real bad financial situation in the home mixed with one other issue that is going on, as well such as neglect or severe mental health issues within the family or parents, and possibly with the child as well [to qualify for a grant].
“So long as there is the ability of someone in the school to be able to manage the grant and make sure that it is going on the things that the teacher, the family, and Buttle have agreed, we will work with schools where they are able to facilitate that.”
The charity provides grants of up to £2,000 that support a child’s education in some way; for example, with extra tuition or after-school activities or IT equipment. However, this year the charity is “more flexible than ever” and says, in some circumstances, the grants could be used on household items like beds and possibly food.
Funded by members of the public as well as foundations, philanthropists and private companies, the charity normally has around £1.8 million to give out in grants. However, “funders have massively stepped up” donations due to the coronavirus pandemic and the fund is £5.2 million this year.
Mr Howes added: “We’ve got more money than we’ve ever had before, although it’s not going to be enough to go around for everyone.”
Teachers who wish to nominate pupils should visit the Buttle UK website here.