Guidance to financial assistance

Guidance for financial assistance through the RCN Foundation

Financial assistance is provided through the RCN Foundation and its charitable funds are supported through voluntary donations. RCN Foundation grants are administered through the RCN Lamplight Support Service.

Whilst we would like to provide financial assistance to all the requests we receive, due to limited funds, grant giving is subject to funding guidelines and assistance is prioritised according to need.

The following information relates to eligibility for charitable grant assistance and is essential reading for those that wish to apply.

Applicants must reside in the UK at the time the application is made.

Nurses and Midwives that have been registered in the UK...

Can apply whilst working, if unemployed and when retired including those that have been referred to NMC or suspended awaiting NMC decision.

Nurses and midwives that been struck off the NMC register are referred to the Partnership Working Group (PWG) Committee for consideration.

Internationally trained Nurses...

Can apply if they have completed nurse training overseas, have been registered with a nursing professional register overseas, and have worked as a registered nurse overseas. They must currently reside in the UK and be seeking to work in a healthcare environment.

Nursing Associates or Trainee Nursing Associates (England only)...

Can apply whilst working, if unemployed and when retired. Must have completed a minimum of three years’ service as a Nursing Associate or Nursing Support Worker in the UK.

Nursing Support Workers...

Can apply whilst working, if unemployed and when retired. Must have completed a minimum of three years’ service in the UK.

A "Nursing Support Worker" includes Healthcare Assistants and Assistant Practitioners that work providing health or social care under the guidance and supervision of a registered nurse, midwife or health visitor.

Nursing degree apprentices...

Must have completed a minimum of three years’ service as a nursing degree apprentice or nursing support worker in the UK.

Student Nurses and Student Midwives...

Can apply if their funding (which may include a bursary or student loan) for their UK programme of study has stopped due to illness. Students and apprentices fleeing domestic abuse or who have experienced a bereavement of a partner that they co-habited with are also eligible to apply.

The individual applying will generally have experienced a change of circumstance. A change in circumstance can refer to unexpected expenditure as well as reduced income. The individual will be assessed to check whether they fulfil one or both of the following:

  • The individual can demonstrate a shortfall between their household income and essential expenditure;
  • The individual requires an essential item or service that they are unable to fund, that they cannot be expected to do without and cannot afford over a reasonable amount of time

The individual’s circumstances will be fully considered when awarding financial assistance and grants will be tailored to ensure their biggest impact.

The type of assistance available will aim to be flexible to the needs of individuals, within the grant giving guidelines of the fund.

There are costs and purposes for which grants will not be made. These will generally be deemed costs that are non-essential.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Repayment of consumer credit debt (See "What if someone has debt" further below)
  • Funeral costs and related costs such as travel to funerals     
  • Educational or training costs, with the exception of support with cost of living during a Return to Practice course where other sources of funding are unavailable
  • Private medical treatment (including support with costs associated with the diagnosis of conditions, such as autism and dyslexia)
  • Legal fees
  • Costs associated with immigration fees, such as visas and health surcharges
  • Computers, laptops and other technological items that do not relate to a medical condition
  • International travel
  • Top-up fees for care homes
  • Grants for dependants
  • Union membership fees
  • Attendance of NMC hearings (we can however help with the NMC registration fee) 

The following steps make up an application for financial assistance:

1.) Read this guidance in full to check to see if an application is appropriate

2.) Contact RCN Direct to schedule a telephone appointment with the Lamplight Support Service

  • RCN members can call RCN Direct on 0345 772 6100
  • Individuals not in RCN membership can call 0345 772 6200

(Lines are open 8:30am - 8:30pm, 7 days a week.)

3.) Complete an online Pre-appointment Questionnaire (PAQ) at least two days ahead of the booked appointment. The PAQ captures details about an individual’s household, income and expenditure. If an individual is unable to complete a PAQ due to an impairment or access issue, this will be noted at the point of booking.

4.) Have a telephone appointment with a Lamplight adviser. As Lamplight’s primary aim is to enable individuals to maximise their income through advice and sustain their finances in the longer-term, prior to assessing an individual’s eligibility for a grant, an adviser will:

  • Check an individual’s benefit entitlement and instruct them on how to make any claims for benefits that they may be eligible for
  • Work with the individual to identify ways they may be able to increase household income (e.g. rent a spare room out, working additional hours) and reduce non-essential household outgoings.
  • Signpost to other specialist services – such as debt advice – that would benefit you.

5.) If an individual appears eligible for financial assistance following their appointment, they would need to return documentation. The adviser will outline what documents they need to return in the correspondence that they send.

Please note, not everyone is eligible for financial assistance as grants are means-tested.

A final decision can only be made once all documentation has been sent to Lamplight.


To be successful in an application for funding, an individual must:

  • Apply for all benefits they may be eligible for
  • Take reasonable steps to increase household income (e.g. renting a spare room out, working additional hours) and reduce non-essential household outgoings. This includes a partner’s income/expenditure and contributions from non-dependants.
  • Access specialist debt advice, if needed

The Lamplight Support Service appreciates that many people who seek our assistance will have debt* in one form or another. Having debt will not prevent someone being granted financial assistance. However, when the repayment of debt appears to be the primary cause of an individual’s financial difficulty (i.e. the difference between breaking even each month or not), grant assistance will not be provided. In these circumstances, Lamplight would support the individual to access debt advice from a certified money adviser.

When there is no disposable income to set up a repayment plan or housing is at risk, financial assistance toward the repayment of priority debts can be considered, as can financial assistance toward bankruptcy fees and Debt Relief Orders (DROs). 

*Debt includes credit cards, loans, store cards, hire purchase agreements, and council tax arrears, utility arrears and mortgage arrears. Debt also includes the repayment of Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) and Debt Management Plans. In these circumstances, the individual would be required to have an appointment with the RCN Welfare Service for advice on their debt before a grant decision is made.

For our assessment purposes, we consider all capital held by the applicant and their partner as savings. This includes money across all bank accounts, including ISAs, premium bonds and shares.

We do not consider dependant children’s money as savings unless there is evidence that these savings have been used to supplement the applicant’s monthly expenditure (i.e. regular transfers between accounts). When applying for support to meet routine monthly expenditure (i.e. day to day costs, childcare costs or mortgage) individuals that have household savings above the amounts below will not be eligible for financial assistance:

  • £2000 for households of working age 
  • £5000 for household of an individual or couple who have reached or are over state retirement age

When applying for support with one-off costs that are beyond routine monthly expenditure – such as disability adaptations – these limits do not apply. In these circumstances, the cost of what is being applied for and the individual’s ability to meet the cost within a reasonable time-frame will be the primary consideration.

There is no need to provide documentation until after a telephone appointment with the Lamplight Support Service has taken place. If you are eligible to apply, the adviser will write to you outlining the exact documents we need you to send.

The documentation an individual will need to supply will vary depending on the type of application they are making. Generally, the following will need to be supplied:

  • Copies of two months’ recent statements from all open bank accounts you hold (and your partner holds, if you have one), including all current, savings and business accounts
  • Recent payslips if you are working
  • Documentation relating to benefits awards and/or applications, if you are receiving benefits or have applied for benefits
  • Evidence of your employment as a nurse, midwife, nursing support worker, nursing associate, nursing apprentice or nursing student. When evidencing employment as a nursing support worker this must demonstrate employment of a minimum of three years
  • Bills and/or quotes relating to the cost being applied for. If an individual is applying for support with costs associated with their health we will require supporting medical documentation.

If an individual is applying for support with costs associated with their health, we will require supporting medical documentation.

An individual can only receive one grant each calendar year (January to December) but can receive no more than three grants in a five year period.

The Partnership Working Group Committee is made of RCN and RCN Foundation staff members which operates with delegated authority from the RCN Foundation to decide upon applications from nurses and midwives who have been struck off the NMC register.

If you have a question about the support available, you can email lamplight@rcn.org.uk