The future of a Lynn homeless charity looks set to have been saved after the community rallied together to support its emergency crisis appeal.
Local clubs, organisations and individuals have helped the Purfleet Trust raise £20,000 in just a couple of weeks.
And chief executive Paula Hall is confident it can reach its £50,000 target to keep it open through the harsh winter months, when its vital services to help those sleeping rough on the streets are needed most.
The news comes as supporters get ready to stage a sponsored sleep-out in Lynn on Monday to raise further funds and awareness of the increasing numbers facing homelessness.
The Purfleet Trust, which has been helping thousands of Lynn and West Norfolk’s most vulnerable people for more than 20 years, launched its desperate appeal for funding last month when Government cuts and changes to charity funding left it as crisis point, and at risk of closing by the end of November.
With only enough money to survive a few more weeks, its access to funding had been reduced at the same time as welfare reform changes and a lack of jobs saw demand for its services increase.
Mrs Hall said £50,000 was the amount needed to continue its operation through the winter and Christmas period until early next year, when ongoing funding will become available.
Now, with the help of the community, it looks set to achieve its aim.
Mrs Hall said yesterday: “We have had a fantastic response from our community. We have received support from local clubs who have fundraised for us and individuals who, as well as sending us financial support, have also sent incredible messages of support.
“We are so grateful for the support of everyone who has donated and helped us raise over £20,000 in the last couple of weeks.
“We are certain with continued support we can achieve our target and ask that people continue to consider donating to us to ensure we can continue to support the most vulnerable people over the winter.”
Helping to boost the fundraising even further next week will be a sponsored, overnight sleep-out in The Walks in Lynn.
At least eight people will be sleeping rough in the bandstand from 7pm on Monday to 7am the following day, although organisers are hoping as many people as possible will come and join them on the night.
Purfleet Trust support Jessica Barnard came up with the idea of the sleep-out after reading about the charity’s plight in the Lynn News.
The 20-year-old former Norfolk Youth Parliament member had become more aware of the charity’s work after being elected as the women’s officer for the North West Norfolk Labour group in August.
She said: “In my work with local organisations, I have made it my business to know when women need assistance.
“The Purfleet Trust has seen its percentage of female users rise drastically from 10 per cent to 37 per cent in the past few years which is particularly worrying. For me, it represents the impact of the government cuts that affect women more than men.”
Miss Barnard, of West Lynn, will be joined on the night by fellow Labour constituency members including secretary Jo Rust, her step-father and former Purfleet employee Nick Barber and friends and family.
“Anyone else who wants to come and join us and help raise even more money is more than welcome,” said Miss Barnard, who is hoping to raise around £2,000.
“We won’t have tents or anything like that. We will only have what any other homeless person has to hand, and nothing more.
“We want to raise money but also awareness of the conditions homeless people are sleeping in.”
Meanwhile, West Norfolk Council has also pledged to continue its support for the charity.
Adrian Lawrence, portfolio holder for housing, said the council had already provided financial support to the trust to assist with services they provide to the authority.
He said: “We are constantly working with the Purfleet Trust, not just financially but with advice to open doors to other financial streams and seek donations from other organisations.
“We will continue to work with them and do our very best to ensure they carry on their valuable work.”
Anyone wanting to sponsor the sleep-out can visit the event’s fundraising web page at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/purfleetsleep
You can also send donations to the Purfleet Trust through its Virgin Giving account, which can be accessed via the charity website at: www.purfleettrust.org.uk
Alternatively, cheques made payable to the Purfleet Trust, can be sent to its day centre at 5 St Ann’s Fort, King’s Lynn, PE30 1QS.