Businesses are being asked to create a £40,000 hardship fund to help people who are struggling financially.
The newly-created Community Support Network has been created by not-for-profit organisations across Birmingham which now wants to tap into the support from the business community.
Individuals are also being asked to back the scheme.
It has been launched in the wake of an assessment by Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) which found that in the last three years up to 30 per cent of the city’s small to medium-sized voluntary organisations have closed or greatly reduced their service.
Once funding is in place, grants of up to £50 will be given to families and individuals to buy essential items such as nappies, or cover monthly energy bills.
Some 40 charity and multi-faith groups are behind the Community Support Network. All money donated to the fund will be given to people in need. None of it will be spent on administration and the scheme will be audited by BVSC.
Mohammed Al-Rahim, chairman of the Community Support Network and chief executive officer at Birmingham charity Freshwinds, said: “More than ever we are seeing people coming to us living in abject poverty, without the means to feed themselves or have access to electricity throughout the month.
“We have seen an upsurge in requests for help since the start of the economic downturn. This increased after the introduction of the bedroom tax, and when the cap on benefits comes in in August, we expect demand to soar. Yet the call for help is at a time when available support is dwindling.
“We can help people to keep their lights on, or get a winter coat, but we need support. No matter how much you can afford to give, please donate money to help us to help the people of Birmingham.”
Brian Carr, chief executive at BVSC, said: “Birmingham’s local voluntary sector is to be commended on its co-ordinated and passionate response to the crisis facing many in our communities.
“Charities and community groups are themselves under huge pressure due to funding cuts and many are facing the closure of essential services – but Birmingham has a rich history of local voluntary action, particularly during times of great need.”