Good causes are left stunned by the kindness of Portsmouth business

Mark Smith presents the �10,000 cheque to  Carole Price, Lesley Wenden, and Hilary Frost from The LifeHouse in Southsea 

Picture: Sarah Standing (161246-5704)
Mark Smith presents the �10,000 cheque to Carole Price, Lesley Wenden, and Hilary Frost from The LifeHouse in Southsea Picture: Sarah Standing (161246-5704)
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  • Friends in Finance hands out £20,000 to needy causes across the area
  • It’s the second year of the scheme, run by Mark Smith, founder of The Car Finance Company
  • Cash will help feed the homeless, support the disabled, the ill and lonely children in the city
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HUNDREDS of homeless people in Portsmouth will not go hungry this winter thanks to the kindness of a city firm.

Mark Smith, founder of The Car Finance Company, based in Portsmouth yesterday awarded £10,000 to The LifeHouse Soup Kitchen in Albert Road, Southsea.

Mark Smith and, back row fourth left, marketing manager Hayley O'Connor from The Car Finance Company, with the Friends in Finance winners. 

Picture: Sarah Standing (161246-5713)

Mark Smith and, back row fourth left, marketing manager Hayley O'Connor from The Car Finance Company, with the Friends in Finance winners. Picture: Sarah Standing (161246-5713)

The windfall is part of the Friends in Finance scheme which splits a £20,000 pot of cash for local good causes.

Lesley Wenden is one of the volunteers of LifeHouse and was overwhelmed by the donation.

She said: ‘It’s going to make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of people in the city. It’s going to be life-changing for some of them.

‘This money will keep us running every Thursday for the next 18 months.’

We don’t get the big money coming in like a lot of the national charities so for us this is really major

Claire Cook, of Hannah’s Holiday Homes Appeal

Seven worthy causes each took a share of the cash on offer for this year.

Many are small, not-for-profit organisations or charities with no government funding.

Claire Cook is a volunteer for Horndean-based Hannah’s Holiday Home Appeal – which received a £3,000 grant – and knows how vital this money is.

She became a volunteer for the group after it helped her cope when her daughter Gemma was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012, aged 10.

Claire said: ‘They helped me through so much. I wouldn’t have been able to cope with it all.

‘We don’t get the big money coming in like a lot of the national charities so for us this is really major. It means we can support 12 families across the area.’

Geoff Ellis, 36, of Portchester was left wheelchair-bound when he broke his back in a cycling accident in 2013.

He is now reliant on the support of his two-year-old Labrador Delilah – provided to him by Midhurst-based Canine Partners, which received a £2,000 grant.

He said: ‘It’s been tough as I not only had my accident but two years later I lost my brother and my partner left me.’

‘So to have the dog through this has been great. It keeps me focused and provides me with help with the day-to-day things. She’s a great companion.’

Lewis Hine, 15, set up Friend Finder in 2015 to help lonely children and young people across the city make new pals.

He is now going to be using his £3,000 grant to set up the first Friend Finder Prom in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, on June 2 next year.

Other causes to benefit from the grants included Havant Youth Sail Training Scheme, The Fellowship and Give, Gain and Grow, which all received £333.33.

Coffin Mew Solicitors in Lakeside, North Harbour, staged the cheque presentation.

Mr Smith, a former detective in the Royal Navy, praised the support of Coffin Mew and added: ‘It’s great to see how relatively small donations can make a huge difference to people’s lives.’

The next scheme will open in April.