One hundred organisations have joined a growing campaign to give a voice to the millions of people supported by benefits at some point in their lives.
The Who Benefits? campaign now includes a broad coalition of charities, professional networks and community groups such as RNIB, The National Autistic Society, Oxfam, the Stroke Association, Carers UK, Working Families and the Chartered Institute of Housing. (The complete list is below.)
Benefits matter to millions
Together, these groups represent millions of people who have relied on support from benefits because of ill health, caring for a loved one, losing their job or just struggling with low wages and the high cost of living.
The campaign was brought together by charities The Children’s Society, Crisis, Gingerbread, Macmillan Cancer Support and Mind. It was launched to bring the voices of the millions of people who have been supported by benefits at some point in their lives to a debate often dominated by extreme examples and stereotypes.
The campaign is calling on politicians and the public to do more to understand the lives of people supported by benefits and focus on real reasons that people are struggling such as low wages, a rising cost of living and the housing crisis.
'The benefits system . . . is vital for all of us'
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:
'All of us will care for or need care from loved ones at some point in our lives. Following a diagnosis of dementia, treatment for cancer or the birth of a disabled child – every family may need support from the benefits system, as they cope with the financial impact of having to cut working hours or give up work to care and the extra costs of ill-health and disability. The benefits system isn’t there for a small part of society – it is vital for all of us.'
Joanna Holmes, Chair of Locality, said:
'Locality is delighted to be the 100th member of the Who Benefits? campaign. A decent benefits system is a hallmark of a decent society and we believe it is really important that the voices of those living on benefits are heard – and that people understand the real help that benefits provide to individuals, families and communities.'
Tom Madders, Head of Campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said:
'Benefits are a lifeline and not a luxury for thousands of disabled people and their families across the UK. We frequently hear from people with autism who are worried about what the future might hold if they didn’t have the support of benefits.
'Without benefits many people with autism and those who care for them would be left isolated and adrift from society. Campaigns like this are vital in raising awareness of the pressures that people living with disability are currently under and we hope that by working together we can draw attention to the human faces behind the benefits debate.'
Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families, said:
'We support the Who Benefits? campaign. We know from callers to our helpline that there are times when working parents and carers need some support from benefits. It is this support, often short term, which enables them to balance work and caring responsibilities and still make work pay.'
The campaign is asking people to share their stories through the Who Benefits? website. Hundreds of people who have been supported by benefits have already added their voice through the website and through social media with the hashtag #WeAllBenefit.
For more information, to arrange an interview or for details of case studies, please contact The Children’s Society on 020 7841 4422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
 The Who Benefits? Campaign launched in October this year with polling from YouGov showing that 81% agree that 'benefits are an important safety net to support people when they need help', while 64% agree that 'we all benefit as a society when support from benefits is available for those that need it'. Find details of the launch.
Notes to editor
The Who Benefits? campaign is giving a voice to people who have been supported by benefits at some point in their lives. It uses real stories to show the reality of who needs help, why they need it and the difference it makes. It was brought together by The Children’s Society, Crisis, Gingerbread, Macmillan Cancer Support and Mind.
To find out more about the campaign or to tell your own story please visit www.whobenefits.org.uk.
The 100 organisations that are supporting the Who Benefits? campaign are:
- Action for Children
- Action for ME
- Al Mizan Trust
- Anthony Nolan
- Aurora New Dawn
- Bipolar UK
- Camden Federation of Private Tenants
- Carers Trust
- Carers UK
- Catholic Children's Society (Westminster)
- Centre for Mental Health
- Centre for Sustainable Energy
- Child Poverty Action Group
- Children England
- Church Action on Poverty
- Community Links
- Contact a Family
- Cool Tan Arts
- CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network)
- Cystic Fibrosis Trust
- DeafBlind UK
- Disability Cornwall
- Disability Rights UK
- Emmaus UK
- Epilepsy Action
- Epilepsy Society
- Every Disabled Child Matters
- Family Action
- Grandparents Plus
- Guide Dogs
- Homeless Link
- Housing Justice
- Just Fair
- Law Centres Network
- Leonard Cheshire Disability
- Lymphoma Association
- Macmillan Cancer Support
- Money Advice Trust
- MS Society
- National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers
- National Council for Voluntary Youth Service
- Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service
- Parkinsons UK
- Poverty Alliance
- Rightsnet/ Lasa
- Scottish Association for Mental Health
- Scottish Women's Aid
- Second Step
- South East London ME Support Group
- St Helen's YMCA
- St Mungo’s
- St Petrocks
- Stroke Association
- Suicide Safer London
- Tenant Participation Advisory Service
- Terrence Higgins Trust
- Thames Reach
- The Action Group
- The Association of Panel Members
- The Cardinal Hume Centre
- The Chartered Institute of Housing
- The Children's Society
- The Connection at St-Martins-in-the-field
- The Foyer Federation
- The Grassmarket Community Project
- The Mental Health Foundation
- The Metro Centre
- The Motor Neurone Disease Association
- The National Autistic Society
- The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
- The Neurological Alliance
- The Passage
- The Pavement
- United Response
- United Welsh Housing Association
- Women’s Budget Group
- Working Families