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Esmee Fairbairn Funding for Z2K

We are delighted to have secured £150k over three years in grant funding from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to step up our campaigning work.

By Raji Hunjan · September 12, 2019

We are delighted to have secured £150k over three years in grant funding from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to step up our campaigning work. We will continue to fight for changes in the benefits system that enable people to move out of poverty and live dignified lives.

In a Brexit focussed political environment it is essential that we continue to work with others for a stronger voice in welfare reform. Over the last four years we have seen the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) go through six Secretary of States, which is hugely problematic for all of us who are working to push the government to listen.  There are 14.2 million people living in poverty of which 4.3 million are children.  We want to move back to a benefits system that works as a safety net to help people to move out of poverty.

Our casework is a reminder that behind the shocking figures on poverty, there are real people, with stories that need to be heard. In the first six months of 2019 we have helped around 750 people and achieved £2.1 million in financial benefits. And of the 265 disability benefits cases that we have taken to tribunal and received decisions, we have an astounding 93% success rate.  We believe deeply in the values of compassion and kindness and listening to what people tell us and their experiences reinforce why the system needs reform:

“Due to the fact that I was in debt I lacked self worth.  Since the appeal, for the first time in years I actually have money in the bank and being able to repay friends and pay for myself is a little light relief”                                                          – Client feedback 2019

As a small charity, we are heartened that foundations like Esmee Fairbairn understand the value of our grassroots evidence and how we can use this to influence wider national policy.   We bring an authenticity to the debate that comes from the empathy that our frontline staff share with those we help.  Our caseworkers regularly blog to demonstrate how faults in the system impact on our clients.

In the first half of 2019 alone we have:

  • Successfully run a campaign to force the DWP to change its guidance to GPs on the issues of fit notes to people who are denied benefits.
  • Influenced the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s recommendation to the DWP on the lifting of the Benefit Cap for those who are not expected to actively seek work.
  • Seen our Chief Executive, Raji Hunjan, appointed as the Chair of the London Housing Panel and a member of the Mayor’s Homes for Londoners Board.
  • Persuaded the Advertising Standards Authority to conduct a full investigation into the DWP’s advertising campaign about Universal Credit.
  • Supported the launch of Shelter’s Vision for Social Housing with Raji Hunjan as a Commissioner on the Future for Social Housing.

We will use funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to appoint a second Policy and Campaigns Officer with a focus on collaborating more in the sector, and raising the voices of the people that we work with.  Our clients, more than us, understand just how hard the system is to navigate:

“The benefit system is a mind-field and isn’t set up to help people gain their full entitlement.  I tried repeated attempts to contact various departments at the DWP and they weren’t helpful and never followed up on their promises”          –client Feedback

For anyone who is interested in our work at any level, please do get in touch and sign up to our newsletter.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Date: 12 September 2019

If you would like to discuss anything mentioned in this news post, please contact Samantha on

samanthaevans@z2k.org