Fareham-based charity facing closure over funding cuts

SPECIAL DAY Bobby and Paula Stott tie the knot at Portsmouth Registry Office.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123179-6)
SPECIAL DAY Bobby and Paula Stott tie the knot at Portsmouth Registry Office. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123179-6)

Winchester jail put in special measures

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A CHARITY that appeared on hit TV show The Undateables is facing closure after losing funding.

Stars in the Sky Hants provides a dating and friendship service for people with learning disabilities and has seen a surge of applications since the second series of the Channel 4 show The Undateables has been on air.

Stars in the Sky is the only agency of its kind in this area, and are the furthest south, regularly taking enquiries from all over the south, even as far afield as Cornwall.

Although famous for its dating agency service, the charity organises social events, offers a chaperone service, holds independent living workshops and provides advice for those looking for work.

The Fareham-based charity has been turned down for two grants this year and has been unable to pay its staff since December.

Founder Nicole Hamerton set up the charity in 2008 when her daughter Hollie, who has learning difficulties, left college.

The charity is seen as a lifeline to many of its users and even had its first Stars in the Sky wedding last year.

Nicole said: ‘We have up to 40 people that regularly come to our discos and we are breaking our backs trying to provide a buffet and get everyone there at a reasonable price.

‘The people that come to these events, some of them, are getting dropped off in brand new cars, meanwhile we are breaking our backs on the verge of closure. The funding simply isn’t there and unless people start digging deep into their pockets then I can’t see a future.

‘We have asked for further funding but it doesn’t mean we are going to get what we ask for and if we are successful then that money will only last us for four months.’

The charity only has enough money to put on five events next month, compared to its usual 10.

For more information go to starsintheskyhants.co.uk or call (01329) 826423.