Time running out for group in cash crisis

Laura Smith with her daughters
Laura Smith with her daughters
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Vulnerable families will be left without vital support if a charity cannot be rescued from a funding crisis, the group warned today.

Home-Start Preston, which supports up to 70 families and 100 children every year, is now spending the last of its reserves to continue its work.

Today, bosses said the family support charity, which needs £60,000 a year to run, could close if funding was not secured in the next three months.

And one single mum said she would be left almost housebound without the 19-year-old charity which provides a volunteer to visit her home.

The closure of Home-Start, which is based in Meadow Street, would result in the loss of three jobs and 35 trained parent volunteers and seven volunteer trustees.

The charity supports poor and isolated families, plus lone, disabled and teenage parents, all with at least one child under five, by offering emotional and practical support in their own homes.

Some are experiencing domestic violence, mental health problems and parenting difficulties.

Terry Bromley, chairman of the trustees, said funding from health and local government chiefs was “going down or has dried up completely”.

He said: “We’ve got some applications in for funding, so we’re hoping that might come up but, as yet, we don’t know and we’re not likely to know until May.

“It’s all tightrope stuff but, at the moment, we’ve decided it’s businesses as usual and we’ve got to keep going as long as we can.

“It’s a listening ear and pointing people in the right direction for other services.

“Also, it’s helping out practically.

“We have a grandma who’s looking after her grandchildren and, once a week, they’re taken out to give her some respite.

“Some people would struggle without us. They’re more content and they feel as though they’ve got a friend. A lot of our mothers are isolated.”

The charity has seen a recent increase in the number of referrals for families with more complex needs such as behavioural issues and abuse.

Single mother-of-two Laura Smith, 22, started using the service when her eldest daughter, Ella, five, was six months old.

Her volunteer, Jennifer, visits her at home in Raven Street, Deepdale, for around three hours, once a week, in addition to social services support.

Laura, who is also mum to Kiyah, two, is disabled and suffers from fibromyalgia and other health problems.

She said: “She helps with getting the children out because I can’t really get out on my own.

“We have a really good relationship and the children love her to bits, she’s like another grandma and she’s absolutely fantastic.

“I wouldn’t really get out if Jennifer didn’t come.

“It’s the only time I get to do my food shopping if I’m well enough to go.”