Charity needs friends as it faces funding crisis

Family support charity Home-Start Winchester and Districts is facing a huge hole in its coffers, potentially putting at risk its ability to help struggling families in the city*.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic all fundraising is on hold for the foreseeable future and the charity’s trustees are appealing for donations not just to help them through the current crisis but to ensure the charity’s future survival.

Even in affluent Winchester there are many families with young children who really struggle with poverty, isolation, low self-esteem, disability, post-natal depression or mental health issues, says Chairman Liz Cooper. Our trained volunteers work alongside parents to help raise their self-confidence and their ability to cope in an increasingly pressured society but years of austerity have left statutory authorities unable to help such families and sometimes Home-Start is all there is.

It shouldn’t be like this.  We know that investment in the early years is vital for giving children the best start in life and is a cost-effective way of preventing a whole range of intractable and expensive problems in later years. However the Government’s spending in response to the pandemic is going elsewhere and it is hard to see this essential long-term investment in society actually happening. In addition the impact of coronavirus lockdown on families is likely to cause an increase in demand for supporting vulnerable families with young children, she said.

Home-Start relies heavily on fundraising events for its core funding, the only regular funding it receives is £8,000 annually from Winchester City Council and £7,000 from local businesses. The remaining £65,000 needed to support its work must be raised each year but in the current climate such events are impossible. 

We need short-term funding to tide us over but even more importantly we need to secure, longer-term core funding.We are asking our friends around the district to commit to supporting our work either through regular contributions, by a one-off donation or doing something bonkers to raise funds in their own way,  said Liz.

Home-Start Winchester runs a tight ship; most of our work is carried out by trained volunteers and our admin costs are low, but to lose in excess of £30,000 in one year is potentially life-threatening to such a small charity, she said.

The lockdown has vividly highlighted the difficulties families face and made the charity’s work more difficult.  Visits have been replaced by twice weekly phone calls and activity packs and food parcels are being delivered to the most economically deprived.

Donations can be made to Home-Start Winchester and Districts through Virgin Money Giving or email for information on how to become a Friend of Home-Start.

Photo: Good friends Noah and Ava need friends to support Home-Start in Winchester.

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