A CHARITY founded by a former Archbishop of York and a city-based entrepreneur has seen a dramatic increase in demand for help due to the pandemic.

Charity ‘Acts 435’ has recorded a more than 50 per cent rise in people in need of help since Covid hit.

In February 2020, 334 people came to the charity for help, a figure that had risen risen to 513 in April of last year.

The charity, founded 11 years ago by the then Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, and Julian Richer, founder of Richer Sounds, provides small grants to people in need.

Acts 435 put people who can provide specific support in touch with those in need, with 500 churches and local charities acting as an online forum, for those struggling financially to access.

Jenny Herrera, Acts 435 executive director, said: “We are acutely aware that each month we rely on people choosing to meet the needs, but experience has shown that there are many people who deeply care and genuinely want to help.

“They read about the challenges facing people in poverty such as the removal of the Universal Credit uplift, health situations and low pay, they want to help.”

Acts 435 was launched at the General Synod of the Church of England, and has helped more than 32,000 people over the years.

Jenny said: “Perhaps they are just about coping on low income or insecure work, but then the car breaks down or the washing machine stops working - its the final straw that makes life seem unmanageable.

“We step in to lift a burden such as clearing bills that are weighing heavily on a person, the cost of a driving test so they can become more employable, or if they have found a job but need particular equipment to start and don’t have any money to buy those work boots.”

Jenny added:“We have been amazed and so thankful to our donors, every week new donors give, responding to appeals on social media.

“Earlier this month, when we sent out a mailshot to our regular supporters highlighting requests in the children category, we received a staggering £9,000 just in one day, meeting individual needs."

Julian was inspired by the Acts 4:32 to 4:35 in the New Testament, when the early Christians gave money to the apostles to give to those in need.

Julian saw the network of partner churches and charities already in place and had the idea to make it UK-wide so that people in more affluent areas could help those in need, and Dr Sentamu agreed for the church to front the charity.

One hundred per cent of each donation goes to those in need, with no extra fundraising needed, and gift aid fully covers the administration costs.

Jenny said: “It is a privilege for us to provide a way to connect people who want to help with those in need, and over the years I have realised that we are serving our donors every bit as much as our beneficiaries by enabling them to experience this direct joy of giving.”