Wyre Forest support service thrown lifeline

Kidderminster Shuttle: Home-Start Wyre Forest manager Belinda Darby. Home-Start Wyre Forest manager Belinda Darby.

A SUPPORT service for vulnerable families in Wyre Forest threatened with closure following council cuts has taken a step towards long-term survival after securing more funding.

Home-Start Wyre Forest, based in New Road, has been offered a grant of £26,000 from Lloyds Bank Foundation for the delivery of volunteer befriending services to vulnerable families experiencing difficulties. It means the service will be able to accept new families again from April 1 and at least some form of it will exist for another two years in the district.

The charity has been running a reduced service since December after a bombshell cut to its funding from Worcestershire County Council meant its main source of income - £77,000 a year - would no longer be provided. The service helped nearly 200 families, including 409 children, in 2012.

Manager Belinda Darby said: "The four months since we were informed our core funding was ending have been incredibly intense and pressured for everyone here. Losing experienced and highly-valued staff members and having to close for referrals has taken its toll on the Home-Start team of volunteers, staff and directors.

"However, the unanimous support and encouragement we received from our volunteers, aligned professionals and members of the community has motivated us to find solutions to the obstacles created by this situation and to keep fighting for the services we know is needed as much as ever."

The charity's chairman Barbara Hughes added: "We still have a long way to go to feel fully confident about the future and are yet to secure funding for admin and management costs for the coming year but this grant is a turning point for us, providing additional security for some level of Home-Start service to be available in Wyre Forest for the next two years.

"We are delighted to have achieved this position in a four-month period and it is all credit to the creativity, commitment and sheer hard work of the management committee and staff at Home-Start Wyre Forest we are here today."

For more information, visit homestartwyreforest.org.uk or call 01562 825896.

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