This policy outlines the referral criteria and procedure for Individuals & Families to receive help from The Cowshed.

  • We primarily accept referrals from recognised professionals on behalf of individuals and families. ‘Professional’ refers to local authority appointed: Social Workers, Probation Officers, Housing Officers, Health Visitors and Childcare Workers and other such government professionals who work with those in need.
  • We also accept referrals from other professional bodies that have interactions with individuals and families in need such as:
    • The NHS
    • Citizens Advice Bureau
    • Religious Officials (All Faiths)
    • Educational Establishments
    • Some registered Charities
  • In the case of referrals from other charities, we request a copy of their referral criteria to ensure the charity is in a position to adequately assess needs of those they refer to us. If their referral policy and/or processes to assess need are not deemed sufficient, we may guide the referrer to approach an alternative referring body on behalf of their client. Once the referral has been accepted, The Cowshed will treat referred clients as their own and will coordinate needs, additional information, and delivery directly with the client. If it is a secondary referral i.e., not originating directly with the Charity, then the original referring agency should be signposted to complete a referral directly to the Cowshed.
  • Determination of need
    • Professionals must use their judgement based on frequent interaction with the individual(s) or knowledge of their financial status to determine the level of need.
  • As our provision is for crisis support, we will:
    • Only accept referrals for the same adult individual once unless there are exceptional circumstances, or the referral is for different items.
    • Only accept referrals for children under the age of 18 once in a 6-month period unless there are exceptional circumstances.
    • Typically try to provide 7 days’ worth of clothing and other relevant essential items.
  • We will not accept referrals directly from an individual or family. In these cases, they will be required to approach a recognised ‘professional’ to endorse their referral. The Cowshed will endeavour to signpost them to a suitable organisation to assess their need and submit a referral on their behalf.

Referrals Procedure

In order to make a referral to the Cowshed, the recognised professional needs to fill out the relevant referral enquiry form on the website. Please ensure that the email contact details provided on your referral form are your organisational email details as we are unable to accept referrals from a personal email account. Once the form is entered on the website it is automatically sent to our referral centre.

This will be followed by direct telephone or email contact with either the client or referrer to establish their needs in more detail. When all the information is received, we will then make up the referral. We will endeavour to provide all items requested where possible, but on occasion there may be some items unavailable due to stock and levels of demand.

Once a referral is completed, we will contact the client or referrer to arrange delivery. Referrals can either be delivered directly to the client or to the organisation which referred them. Regarding collections, we are open to discussing this option when delivery is not feasible, but items must be picked up within seven days otherwise the referral may be cancelled.

We also offer a service where individuals who have been referred can come to the Referral Centre for bra or prom fittings. These can be booked using the referral enquiry form on our website.

We endeavour to fulfil all referrals within 14 working days, often this can be quicker. If the referral is urgent or an emergency, we will do our best to fulfil the request as quickly as possible and subject to stock can usually respond within 24 hours or less. This can be indicated on our enquiry form.

We endeavour to take reasonable steps to satisfy ourselves that all items provided are good quality, good condition and safe for use. All items received should be used in accordance with any supplied manufacturer’s instructions and any additional instructions provided.

If upon receipt, items appear inappropriate and or unsafe, it is the responsibility of the referrer and receiving family or individual to stop using the items straight away and to notify us immediately and no later than 2 weeks of receipt and we will do our best to source replacements If the items provided are unsuitable or do not fit we require said items to be returned before we can issue a replacement.

The responsibility for the correct and safe use of all items supplied lies with the receiving individual or family. Once items are accepted, they become their property and responsibility.

Terms and Conditions

When you register as a referral partner, you agree to the following terms and conditions:

  1. I confirm that I am a recognised professional or work/volunteer for an eligible organisation as detailed in The Cowshed’s Referral Policy.
  2. I understand that the main aim of The Cowshed is to support those experiencing financial hardship and crisis and I will refer individuals and/or families whom I judge to be in need in accordance with these criteria. The items which I request will also be items which I judge that they need in accordance with these criteria.
  3. I understand that all items are provided free of charge for the benefit of those I ascertain are in need.