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

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

Working together, they offer people advice, advocacy and support which matches their personal circumstances. The aim is to look at the issues people face, and the underlying causes, from their basic needs, to their physical and mental health, to skills and employment. People are supported to draw on their personal experiences to build on their skills and strengths so they are ready to seize the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Responsiveness to change is a key requirement of the programme. Projects will need to respond rapidly to changes in the external environment and changing needs of people.

Projects are currently in grant management. Grant funding will end in 2021.

People in the lead

The programme has four outcomes, all of which need to be met by the partnerships:

  • People who have experienced hardship crisis are better able to improve their circumstances and plan for the future
  • Organisations are better able to support people to effectively tackle hardship through sharing learning and evidence
  • 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.

In order for the programme to achieve its full potential and to put people in the lead in improving their lives and communities, local partnerships also need 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 learning, evaluation and support team is a consortium of organisations commissioned by The National Lottery Community Fund to help build understanding and capture learning from the Help through Crisis programme. The team is made up of people from Ipsos MORI (Lead Contractor), NEF Consulting, Revolving Doors Agency and Hopkins Van Mill.

The role of the consortium is to help the 69 partnerships involved in the programme:

  • 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.

We do this through hosting national and regional events, developing learning resources including toolkits and case studies, and working with individual partnerships. If you’d like to hear more about our learning activities and the programme evaluation, feel free to get in touch with the team:



Literature scans and reviews

Learning papers

Annual reports

Policy Commentaries

The Help through Crisis policy commentary series aim 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 will 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.