Help through Crisis

Wintercomfort For The Homeless

Help Through Crisis is a £33 million programme supporting 69 partnerships across England which help people who are experiencing or at risk of hardship crisis to overcome the difficulties they are facing to plan for their futures.


Image credit: Wintercomfort, an example of a project funded for similar work under Awards for All England

Aims & approach

Thank you for your interest in the Help through Crisis programme. This is a legacy page.

The partnerships receiving National Lottery funding through the Help through Crisis (HtC) programme brought together small voluntary groups and established charities to work together locally.

HtC partnershps addressed a diverse and wide range of circumstances (for example: poverty, poor physical and/or mental health, eviction, homelessness, debt, domestic abuse, and unemployment). HtC partnerships provided services to meet the needs of over 220,000 people experiencing crisis. Partnerships provided advice, advocacy and support to match people’s needs and tackle underlying causes of crisis, enabling people to move out of crisis by drawing upon their experiences, skills and strengths.

The programme had three outcomes, all of which had to be met by the partnerships:

  1. People who have experienced hardship crisis are better able to improve their circumstances and plan for the future
  2. Organisations are better able to support people to effectively tackle hardship through sharing learning and evidence
  3. Those experiencing, or who are at high risk of experiencing, hardship crisis, have a stronger, more collective, voice, to better shape a response to their issues.

For the programme to achieve its full potential and put people in the lead in improving their lives and communities, local partnerships also needed to adopt the following principles:

  • Ensure those that have experienced hardship crisis themselves are fully engaged in the design and delivery of services and are actively encouraged to help shape solutions in order to influence change
  • Commit to supporting those who have experienced, or risk experiencing, hardship crisis to have a stronger, more collective voice to better shape a response to their issues
  • Be led by, or involve, smaller scale grassroots community organisations that reach out to those who may not easily engage with mainstream services
  • Demonstrate effective collaborative working to ensure holistic support including strong links with statutory and other support services
  • Commit to capturing learning about what works to tackle hardship crisis and the impact of the services to enable projects to share and respond to changing circumstances and environment.

The Help through Crisis programme was supported by a learning, support and evaluation team (LSE). The LSE team was a consortium of organisations commissioned by The National Lottery Community Fund to help build understanding and capture learning and evidence from the Help through Crisis programme and work closely with grant holders to support the programme delivery. The team was made up of people from Ipsos MORI (Lead Contractor), NEF Consulting(until June 20), Revolving Doors Agency and Hopkins Van Mill.

The role of the LSC team was to help the 69 partnerships involved in the programme by:

  • Empowering them to evaluate and measure their impact, and capture learning about what works in tackling hardship crisis.
  • Supporting their co-production activities, ensuring the people they support have a voice in shaping local services.
  • Identifying good practice and disseminating learning to build the evidence base and help partnerships to replicate or scale up approaches from elsewhere.

They did this through hosting national and regional events, developing learning resources including toolkits and case studies, and working with individual partnerships.


All the papers produced by the LSE team can be found via our ‘Insights from our funding: documents’ page.

Policy Commentaries

The Help through Crisis policy commentaries aimed to share learning from the Help through Crisis programme with wider stakeholders and policymakers. Focusing on the key findings emerging from the programme, the policy commentaries aimed to address the following research questions:

  • What are effective ways to support people in crisis?
  • How can those in crisis or at risk of crisis have a stronger voice and help shape service delivery and solutions?
  • What are the implications of the findings for support organisations?


  • Promoting staff wellbeing to improve frontline crisis support (PDF 428 KB)
    Organisations providing crisis support deal with people with increasingly complex needs. Frontline staff face considerable challenges as they work to deliver holistic support to people in crisis which can often be in a stressful environment that has a negative impact on staff wellbeing. Staff burnout is described as common in the sector. Evidence from the programme has identified the crucial role senior managers, trustees and funders can play in promoting staff wellbeing.
  • Trauma informed approach policy paper (PDF 185 KB)
    Trauma is broadly defined as events or circumstances that are experienced as harmful or life-threatening and have lasting adverse impacts on aspects of wellbeing. Many people experience trauma, including a significant proportion of those who access HtC services. Trauma and its impacts can affect how people perceive and respond to support. A lack of understanding about trauma risks potentially re-traumatising people seeking support, as well as traumatising staff providing support (see ‘Promoting staff wellbeing’ commentary).

    A TIA broadly describes an approach that is grounded in an understanding of, and responsiveness to, the impacts of trauma on both people seeking and providing support services. Many HtC partnerships expressed an interest in developing fully trauma informed services. Though some partnerships felt that their work already incorporated elements of a TIA, there is no shared understanding of what a TIA is and how to effectively implement one. This policy commentary aims to draw attention to the potential role of TIAs in crisis support organisations. It provides some suggestions for how a TIA can be implemented and supported by leaders in crisis support organisations and funders of these services.