ACO shows nearly half a million turn to charities for support, including basic essentials

Grant-giving organisations including NewstrAid face increased demand for financial and non-financial aid within the news trade.

Press release

20th January 2020

With January intensifying the difficulties people face financially and emotionally, new research has revealed nearly half a million people turned to charities for help in just one year, with NewstrAid supporting more than 800 alone.

National data from the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO) shows the number of people seeking help from charities and benevolent funds because they have nowhere else to turn following an unexpected change in circumstances has risen over the last four years. During this time NewstrAid, the welfare charity for those employed in the sales and distribution of newspapers and magazines, has helped more than 2500 people from the news trade with support including financial support, emotional support, state benefits advice and debt advice.

The ACO represents more than 120 charities, including NewstrAid, that provide financial support in the form of grants, which help thousands of people across the UK. A recent survey of members* showed more than 100,000 people applied for financial help in the last financial year. When extrapolated across its entire membership base, it is estimated ACO member charities will have supported at least 400,000 people in need. In 2015, the charities distributed more than £56million in grants. In comparison, this rose to more than £60million last year – £216million when applied to its entire membership base.

In the last financial year nearly 900 people who work or have worked in the sale and distribution of newspapers and magazines applied to NewstrAid for financial help and over the last 4 years the total amount of grants given by the charity has risen from more than £800,000 in 2015 to over £900,000 last year.

The ACO is highlighting the work done by its member charities across the UK on 22 January 2020 by sharing the stories of people whose lives were turned around thanks to the support they received.

Its campaign, One Day Changes Lives, which is supported by NewstrAid will show how an individual act of support granted by a charity one day can have a huge impact in improving someone’s life. Together, individual acts by ACO charities amount to a colossal positive impact on society.

Mike Mirams, CEO of NewstrAid, said: “NewstrAid helps people and their immediate dependents, who have been employed in newspaper and magazine sale and distribution in the UK and who have fallen on hard times. This sector is facing a very difficult time at the moment and the people we help are in real hardship. The support we provide – both financial and non-financial – can often be the difference between someone sinking or swimming, it can be life changing.”

Donal Watkin, Chief Executive at ACO, said: “These figures show the increasing levels of support needed by people with nowhere else to turn. Today we’re highlighting the big difference our members make to people’s lives through financial and non-financial help, and the role charities continue to play in the UK.”

Those supported by the charities were driven into a crisis for reasons including them or a family member facing sudden illness or disability, incurring costs for unexpected household repairs or bills, being unable to pay the high costs associated with a health condition, poor mental health, being involved in an accident, family breakdown, or redundancy.

Whilst ACO members are predominantly grant-making organisations, they also provide practical assistance, employment support, befriending services, and mental health and wellbeing support. Members are seeing an increase in supporting applicants with non-financial aid, rising from 60,584 people helped in 2015 to 93,308 in 2018.

Help can include the purchasing of fridges, clothes and food, and support with the costs of childcare, healthcare and household bills. Some of the people supported needed help to buy wheelchairs, hearing aids, medical equipment and respite care. The charities also provide legal, debt and/or employment advice.

Examples of some of the ways NewstrAid has helped beneficiaries with a news trade connection:

Mrs S, endured an attempted armed robbery whilst alone in her newsagents and although she managed to foil the robbery, the long term effects had taken their toll and she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and felt very unsafe in the shop and, at times, in her own home. NewstrAid were able to organise a wellbeing assessment for her through Anxiety UK and a further 6 therapy sessions to help her deal with the trauma she had gone though.

Mr J was suffering from non-curable cancer and had not been able to work for some time.  He and his family were left with very little money to meet their living costs. They were facing a significant mortgage repayment each month whilst they looked for a buyer for their property and had two teenage boys to support. NewstrAid was able to award the family 2 months mortgage repayments and a further grant from the ACE Fund for back to school costs as well as an ongoing regular benefit payment to help during Mr J’s’ illness.

Miss P called NewstrAid when she was moved from income support to Universal Credit and had run out of money for the month. She was also being affected by the benefits changes as her income had been reduced under the new system. She was struggling and in desperate need for funds to help clear her rent arrears and help put food on the table. NewstrAid were able to advise her regarding applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment and give her telephone numbers for her local authority and family support team to see if they could help her apply for further benefits. She was also awarded with an emergency hardship grant to help with her rent arrears.

Mr and Mrs B contacted us because they were only just managing to keep up with their bills. Their cooker had recently broken, and they had no savings to replace it. NewstrAid were able to fund the replacement of their cooker and offer financial help and advice through the Fresh Start Assist scheme.

NewstrAid is encouraging members of the public who have ever been helped by grant-giving charities to take part today and share examples of support on social media using the hashtag #OneDayChangesLives

If you are an individual in need with a news trade connection, please visit


For more information about NewstrAid, please contact Lindsay Rule:

Notes to editors:

  • *Survey carried out by the Association of Charitable Organisations, June 2019, with 33 respondents across a membership base of 120 using data from their statements of the last financial year.
  • NewstrAid provides welfare to people who are, or have been, employed in the selling and distribution of newspapers and magazines in the UK. This includes their immediate family and dependants who are in need, hardship or distress. The charity has been in existence for over 175 years. It was founded in 1839 by, amongst others, Charles Dickens, to provide welfare for the desperately poor newspaper street sellers of London but has since expanded to cover the whole of the UK. Visit for more information.