Gosport and Fareham charity faces race against time in fight for survival

Home-Start, in Fareham, may close. Staff '(l-r) Sarah-Jane Scott, Debbie Freemantle, Jacky Morris and Louise Wheeldon.'' Picture: Allan Hutchings (141952-397)
Home-Start, in Fareham, may close. Staff '(l-r) Sarah-Jane Scott, Debbie Freemantle, Jacky Morris and Louise Wheeldon.'' Picture: Allan Hutchings (141952-397)

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FAMILIES have spoken of their heartbreak after learning a charity could be forced to close due to a loss in funding.

Home-Start Gosport and Fareham, which helps parents with young children get through issues such as isolation, mental health problems or domestic abuse, has revealed that it is fearing for its future after losing a third of its funding.

And parents are devasted that the branch could close.

Sam Sindlay, from Stubbington, has been using Home-Start for the past eight months. The 39-year-old said: ‘Home-Start is incredible and it is heartbreaking to think it could fold due to lack of money.’

Sam was referred to the service by a health visitor when her son Aidan was aged two. She has multiple sclerosis and movement can be difficult.

She said: ‘It can be hard for me to go to the park with Aidan or even safely cross roads because I cannot hold his hand and my sticks.

‘The Home-Start volunteer gives us the chance to go to different places.

‘He gets so excited when he knows she is coming because we can do other trips.’

A former user of the service said they saved her life. The 44-year-old said: ‘I used Home-Start for a couple of years when I first moved to the area with my kids.

‘I had no-one but they were there for me. They saved my life and it would be disappointing if they were to close.’

Home-Start, in Salterns Lane, Fareham, helps 40 families and 12 more have recently been referred.

But it no longer has its £40,000 annual funding from Hampshire County Council.

This comes just months after Home-Start Havant revealed it too had funding cut and was forced to axe three jobs.

Up to 30 families were told they couldn’t use the service.

Home-Start Gosport and Fareham faces a race against time to find more funding.

Scheme manager Sarah-Jane Scott said: ‘For this financial year, we are in a critical financial position.

‘One of the main reasons is because we lost our £40,000 grant from the council which we have always had available.

‘We are looking to find other funding but if we don’t have that by December, we will have to start using our reserves which will only last six months.’

The charity received £14,000 from The News’ Cash for Community scheme last year and will be looking for more one-off grants.

Sarah-Jane added: ‘It can be difficult applying for funding because there are other worthy charities also in need.’

Cllr Keith Mans, the council’s lead member for children’s services, said: ‘The council previously had a contract with Home-Start Hampshire. When we retendered the services last year Home-Start Hampshire chose not to submit a tender for a new contract, and the existing contract ceased at the end of February.

‘The council is under immense pressure to adjust public spending. That said, the welfare of children and young people remains a firm priority.’