Lottery steps in to save crisis-hit High Peak charity

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A leading High Peak family support charity which faced closure this month has been handed an 11th-hour lifeline.

The future of Home-Start High Peak, which recruits and trains volunteers to provide one-to-one support to parents and children in their own homes, had been in serious doubt following the withdrawal of a major grant which left it struggling to plug a £30,000 funding gap.

Now The National Lottery has stepped in to provide the Buxton-based charity with enough funding to operate for the coming financial year, enabling it to fulfil its current obligations and seek further funding to secure its longer-term future.

Neil Bent, Home-Start High Peak’s chair of trustees, said: “In 2013, Derbyshire County Council announced its recommendations for cuts to services, which saw the funding for Home-Start High Peak come to an end.

“In today’s challenging financial environment, although we have had some success in securing small amounts of additional funding, we have as yet been unable to replace the local authority’s substantial funding.

“If it weren’t for the Lottery, the good work this scheme has become renowned for over the last decade would have come to an abrupt end, just six months after our tenth anniversary.

“At least now we have a further 12 months to find the £50,000 or so we need to maintain our presence supporting families in the High Peak.”

It’s not all good news for the charity though. In order to secure the Lottery’s funding, the scheme’s Board of Trustees has had to implement a new slimmed-down structure, meaning that the previously three-strong staff operation, managing 40 or so volunteers, will be reduced to a paid lone co-ordinator and around 20 or so volunteers throughout the district.

Following lengthy consultations, two existing co-ordinators have taken redundancy and the senior co-ordinator, Anthea Murfin, has taken a pay cut to step down into the new role which is effective from April 1.

Anthea, who has held the post of senior co-ordinator for the past four years, said: “This is a difficult, emotional time for everybody but I am determined to look forward and am more motivated than ever to support families and volunteers, in whatever way I can.

“I have many years’ experience in family support, and have previously carried out the role of a lone coordinator, so I know it will be tough but, together with the scheme’s trustees, I am up for the challenge.”