HELPING HANDS ADVICE SERVICE CHARITY FACES CLOSURE AS IT IS STARVED OF FUNDS
3 October 2015
A local charity that since 1997 has, free of charge, helped thousands of people whose lives are in crisis through two recessions, austerity measures, repeated changes in welfare benefits entitlement and local government cuts. Now the one that help others is running out of funds and will soon have to close. The impact is that people in crisis will be left to cope on their own!
In 2010 the Oadby and Wigston Borough Council withdrew its grant funding, preferring another provider. The charity has gone it alone and depended on trusts, local businesses, donations, fund raising and more recently the Big Lottery for support in ensuring the work continued and expanded to reach the housebound and those with mental health needs.
The process for tendering for funding from the Council should have begun in May 2015 but there has been a deafening silence. Since 31st July 2015 the Council has not paid one penny for advice services to any provider yet their officers, along with Social Services and County Council funded help desks are signposting many desperate clients to Helping Hands for crisis support. Six weeks ago the Chairman and Secretary at Helping Hands requested an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive and Leader of the council to discuss the looming crisis – there has been no response!
Now a perfect storm is brewing for people in the borough and county wide as Central Government welfare cuts bite home. Already the level of services has been cut with needy people now having to queue. The closure of Helping Hands will impact upon thousands of lives.
PIP (Personal Independence Payment) – advice and support – GONE
Universal Credit – advice on budgeting and money management – GONE
The end of Working and Child Tax Credits – advice and support – GONE
The loss of Legal Aid – free case work on appeals to DWP, advocacy at tribunals – GONE
Free Specialist support for those with poor life skills and Mental Health needs – GONE
Outreach work to those marginalized in their own homes – GONE
Easily accessible advice centre and surgeries – GONE
Access to free legal advice – GONE
A face-to-face one stop service – GONE
The majority of Helping Hands staff are unpaid volunteers, are passionate about helping people and work long hours. The trustees are also unpaid and believe that the charity belongs to the communities it serves and all costs are kept to a minimum.
So now Helping Hands appeals to the local community for your support and help in raising and securing funds to continue the work. Local Councillors, residents, shops and businesses, faith and charitable groups, schools can all play a part. It is not yet too late but time is running out.
Since 1997 the Helping Hands Community Trust has supported thousands of local people living in poverty because of multiple disadvantage or are marginalized by circumstance in the Borough of Oadby and Wigston. Founded with the help of the Borough Council, charities and faith groups the charity has provided its services free of charge and depended on council and charitable grants, donations and local support for its funding.
Unlike other providers Helping Hands avoid signposting and offer easy access to specialist advice and help on a face to face one stop basis, where people are supported through crisis to discover hope and find solutions to their problems. Services are holistic and tailored to individual needs ranging from benefits rights, budgeting and money management, employment and training, legal advice, handling appeals and advocacy. Services are delivered through advice centres, outreach workers, social media and by telephone.
One-stop services ensure that the specialist services are brought to the client. The most disadvantaged of clients cannot cope with the internet, telephone help desks and need extensive help in tackling multi-facetted problems and in any given year will exceed 2000 people with 5000 enquiries.
For further information and personal interviews please contact: