A VITAL Wyre Forest service providing support to the district's most vulnerable children and families, which was threatened with closure, has been thrown a lifeline with a charity investment of more than £80,000.

Home-Start Wyre Forest staff are celebrating after the Henry Smith Charity, which has helped fund the service for the past six years, agreed to invest £82,000 over the next three years to support management costs at the organisation to ensure Home-Start's rebuilding can continue.

Home-Start had previously been able to support more than 400 children each year through a team of volunteers but has struggled following the end of all its Worcestershire County Council funding earlier this year. That was a £77,000-a-year contract, which represented 55 per cent of the service's income.

The move forced directors to make staff redundancies, close to new referrals and scale down its operation until further income could be secured. It has now obtained funding for frontline co-ordinating staff and management until 2017.

Belinda Darby, Home-Start manager, said: "It is wonderful news that the Henry Smith Charity is willing to increase its level of investment to our organisation at our most vulnerable time, recognising the essential role we play in family support and having the confidence in our future service delivery.

"We have worked hard in the past nine months to ensure our organisation is secure and although we still have no admin cover at the scheme and do not have the capacity to support all of the families referred to us, we are definitely moving in the right direction. A new group of volunteers will be trained this autumn to add to our amazing team of 80 current volunteers."

The charity has also agreed to a subcontract with 10:32 Early Help, which works with parents with low-level mental health needs, which will part-fund a new 25-hour week co-ordinator post for the scheme.

Home-Start chairman Barbara Hughes added: "We have always been committed to partnership working and we are very pleased to be working with 10:32 as part of the Early Help offer to families who are in need of befriending support."

Claire D'Arcy of 10:32 said: "I am delighted Home-Start can continue their befriending service to support some of the most vulnerable families in Wyre Forest and we look forward to continue to work with them and other partners to ensure children and parents receive the right service at the right time and from the right professional.

"By effectively working together we can improve outcomes for local children and their families and prevent problems escalating and becoming more serious, requiring more professionals and interventions."

For more information on Home-Start Wyre Forest, visit homestartwyreforest.org.uk