Submitted by george.somers@… on Tue, 11/28/2023 - 11:45

Clergy Support Trust has temporarily suspended new applications until 12 noon, Tuesday 16 January 2024.

In October, we announced that we will be taking the time to upgrade our application system, to provide the best possible user experience for every eligible applicant that comes to us looking for support.

We have received some questions about how this may affect applicants who apply to us, what the new system will look like and how to access support during our closure.

The FAQs below are not extensive, and may be updated periodically, so do keep checking for more information.

Why are you temporarily closing applications?

Last year, we provided £4.9m to support over 2,300 clergy households, including 1 in 6 of all serving Church of England clergy. By the end of this year, we will have supported more applicants than ever before.

We want to continue to provide the best service possible to everyone who reaches out to the Trust for support, but to do that, we need to upgrade to a new system.

We've received a lot of valuable feedback from our applicants, which we've fed into this 12-month project.

We're taking seven weeks to migrate over to the new system, to train our staff on how to use it, and be ready to go when we reopen on Tuesday 16 January 2024.

What will be different about the new system?

For starters, instead of needing multiple log-in details for different grants, you'll have one simple log-in to access support in times of need.

You'll be able to see the status of your application (eg. when we need more information to support your request, when we're assessing the application and when a decision has been made), as well as any grants you've applied for in the past. This will come in handy for keeping track of your application history. For example, you can apply for up to three Emergency grants per calendar year.

Will the grants be different?

Our grants will remain the same, in line with our current grants policy. If you're considering applying once we reopen, all of the information on our website regarding Emergency, Wellbeing, Health, Financial support and Debt grants is still accurate.

Where can I get support while you're closed?

If you are in need of urgent support during the temporary suspension, or during our Christmas closure, we recommend you refer to the alternative sources of charitable support listed on our website.

You may also want to visit our Benefits Calculator, provided by the charity, Turn2Us.

If you feel comfortable, you can also contact your diocese, Archdeacon or Bishop to see if there are any discretionary funds which may be able to help.

What about services like counselling, your online library and Sleepstation?

Some of our key services will remain open during the closure period. These include:

Please note that our Counselling Service with JR Corporate Health is funded through our Health grants, and we will therefore not be accepting new applications for counselling during this period. If you are already receiving support via our Counselling Service, don't worry - any sessions you already have booked in will continue as normal.

I've already submitted an application. What now?

If you have - or are planning to - submit an application before 12 noon on Monday 27 November 2023, we will aim to process this before Christmas (subject to receiving all necessary information and documentation).

In the event we are unable to process your application before Christmas, we will contact you and let you know.  Applying before the closure date does not guarantee an outcome and you may be asked to reapply in January.

We would politely ask that if you’ve made an application before 12 noon on Monday 27 November, that you wait to hear from the Charitable Services team, rather than contacting us for an update, as we anticipate high demand around this time. Please be patient with our team if it takes us longer than usual to get back to you.

Will my existing log-in work?

Our new system will require all applicants to create a new account. If you've applied to the Trust before, your email address will be on our records. However, you will need to set up a new username (your personal email) and a new password.

We will ensure that clear instructions are provided on all of the relevant web pages to help guide you.

We recommend you use your personal email address for our new system. Don't worry if you’ve used a different email in the past, (eg. your work email address, a partner's email address), as we will be able to identify you on other key data, such as National Insurance number.

What do I need to do?

If you find yourself in need and you're planning to submit an application, please ensure it is submitted before 12 noon on Monday 27 November 2023.

We anticipate that you will be able to register, as part of our new verification process, from 12 noon on Tuesday 16 January. We will need to qualify you as an eligible applicant, before our grants and services become available for application, for your household.

For the verification process, you will need documentation to evidence your clergy / ordinand status, or your link to Anglican clergy. We will also ask for your property and savings in order to ensure you are an eligible applicant. Once you are verified, you’ll be able to apply for grants and services, in times of need. You will have the opportunity to update your savings and property circumstances, each time you apply.

We will ensure that clear instructions are provided on all of the relevant web pages, nearer the time.

If you have any problems with the new system, you'll be able to contact our Charitable Services team, who are happy to help. Call 0800 389 5192, or email grants@clergysupport.org.uk.