‘If we closed down it would be devastating’

Hollie Williams (20) from Fareham, with Stars In The Sky Hampshire, co-ordinator Nicole Hamerton (40) (left) and events volunteer Stephen St Aubin (48) (right) in their office at Fareham Community Action, Osborn Road South, Fareham

Hollie Williams (20) from Fareham, with Stars In The Sky Hampshire, co-ordinator Nicole Hamerton (40) (left) and events volunteer Stephen St Aubin (48) (right) in their office at Fareham Community Action, Osborn Road South, Fareham

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IT PROVIDES a service to enable people with learning difficulties to have a social life.

But Fareham-based charity Stars in the Sky has suffered from a huge cut in funding which could force the service to close.

The charity gives those with learning difficulties the chance to meet others and make new friends or even fall in love.

They organise social events such as cinema trips and discos.

Stephen De-St-Aubin, event co-ordinator for Stars, said: ‘We are struggling for funding. We are all fighting for the same funding.

‘We end up with little bits now and again which is just enough to keep us going.’

Staff at the charity have started taking on new members again but they have to sign a disclaimer to state that they understand their membership might not last the full term if the charity folds.

But Stephen said they are still getting a lot of interest.

‘We are offering a service for as long as we can provide it,’ he added.

‘For a lot of them six months membership is better than nothing. Hopefully the friendships that they have made will carry on.

‘There is a social life and interaction that we take for granted.

‘It’s the friendship that they come for and the getting together.

‘They want some sort of social life and this brings them out of their shell.

‘We have got couples moving in together and couples getting married.

‘We have shown that they can have real relationships. The stigma is that they have got learning difficulties and they aren’t capable of having a family or married life.

‘But most of our members will have families and are very successful.’

Next month the charity will hold their first Christmas prom, which will enable many of the members to experience their first prom at the Holiday Inn in Titchfield.

They will get picked up in a limo, provided with buffet food and a Prom King and Queen will be crowned.

‘This is a first for us and for a lot of our members as well,’ said Stephen.

‘A lot of them haven’t had a chance to have a prom.’

He added: ‘For us it would be devastating if we were to close but for our members I don’t think we can put it into words.

‘It’s their little club, we were lucky just to be a part of it.

‘To have it finished would be devastating for them because they would have to go back to where they were three or four years ago.’

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