King’s Lynn charity’s £50k funding crisis

Purfleet Trust Staff members appeal for ?50k to keep the charity open'LtoR, Victoria Smith, Georgie Futter, Sam Easthall, Jelena Golceva, Kim Johnson, Erna Gotyar, Mandy Mills, Jaroslaw Uba. ANL-151022-072226009

Purfleet Trust Staff members appeal for ?50k to keep the charity open'LtoR, Victoria Smith, Georgie Futter, Sam Easthall, Jelena Golceva, Kim Johnson, Erna Gotyar, Mandy Mills, Jaroslaw Uba. ANL-151022-072226009

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A Lynn homeless charity could face closure in a matter of weeks unless it can urgently secure £50,000 of funding.

Government cuts and changes in charity funding have left The Purfleet Trust at crisis point as it heads into the harsh winter months, when its vital services to help those sleeping rough are needed most.

Chief executive Paula Hall said the charity, which has helped some of Lynn and West Norfolk’s most vulnerable people for more than 20 years, has only enough funding to survive a few more weeks.

And unless £50,000 is raised to keep it running until early next year – when ongoing funding will become available – it will be forced to close its doors at the end of November.

In a desperate public appeal for help, Mrs Hall said: “With the changes introduced due to welfare reform, lack of jobs and therefore increased pressure on families, we are seeing more and more people in need of our services.

“But at the same time as demand for our service increases, our access to funding has reduced. We have worked tirelessly to gain funding and have been able to secure ongoing funding from early next year, but we urgently need the public’s help to avert this crisis now.

“We need to generate £50,000 in order to continue our level of operation through the winter and at Christmas, when we are needed most.

“But unless we can do that as soon as possible, we will have no choice but to turn away some of the most vulnerable in our community.”

Mrs Hall accepted £50,000 was a big sum of money, but said when you look at the amount of people the charity helps and the number of services it offers, you can see how far it would stretch.

As well as helping more than 80 people a day at its drop-in centre at St Ann’s Fort, which provides hot meals, shower and laundry facilities, support and skills courses for those living on the streets, the charity’s housing services team helps countless more to secure affordable accommodation.

“The work we do is invaluable and the people we work with are very vulnerable,” she said. “It’s difficult to put a price on a person’s life. We just have to be able to be here so we can help those who can’t help themselves.”

“If we close our doors, it will mean more people on the streets,” she added. “They will suffer, but it won’t just impact on the individuals themselves, it will have a big impact on the community as well. We help to reduce criminal activity, giving people a place to come to so they are not out on the streets and at risk of getting into trouble, and we help resolve people’s mental health issues too.”

Inspector Paul Garrod, of Lynn police, said: “We have a very good local relationship with, and are very supportive of, The Purfleet Trust, who work tirelessly to support homeless people and to assist others in maintaining their tenancies.

“Such is the benefit of the service provided by The Purfleet Trust, that all new police recruits posted to this area spend some time at the drop-in centre in order to raise their awareness of homelessness and of the needs of those finding themselves in such desperate situations. This process helps to break down barriers and aid in communication and understanding.”

The urgent funding would see the charity through the winter until February next year, when it has been able to secure ongoing funding by expanding its training houses project in partnership with Freebridge Community Housing and West Norfolk Council.

The charity currently has four training houses, which provide intensive training to help homeless single people to live independently, but from March next year it is opening another two, including one for women.

“We just need help to get us through the next three to four months,” said Mrs Hall. “But without the public’s help and support we will not be able to do this. Any amount, no matter how small, will make a difference, every penny matters.”

Anyone wanting to make a donation can send a cheque, made payable to The Purfleet Trust, to 5 St Ann’s Fort, King’s Lynn, PE30 1QS, or make a direct payment into its Virgin Giving Account via the charity website at: www.purfleettrust.org.uk