A youth worker whose job has been secured by the £430,000 cash boost that has saved the future of a homeless charity today hailed the grant as a “blessing”.
The shelter manager for Streetlife, a charity offering support and shelter for vulnerable young people in Blackpool, said the money from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund, means staff can finally start to plan for the future – rather than make “difficult decisions” about closing down.
Pete Tomkinson, team leader for the charity’s night shelter, based in St John’s Square in the resort, can now continue his work and the shelter’s offering for another four years.
Just months ago charity bosses made an emotional plea to residents to support them in the face of swingeing austerity cuts that slashed their funding. It was feared that the shelter could close down as early as the end of this month after council funding was pulled.
But the Big Lottery cash will now secure the future of the facility for the next four years.
Mr Tomkinson said: “My own job security is nice but I think I was more delighted for the work of Streetlife.
“It’s an extremely important charity and organisation. If it wasn’t for Streetlife where would these young people go? We are their safety net.”
Mr Tomkinson said the Big Lottery money secured around three quarters of their cash flow, but they would continue to work hard to fund-raise for the remaining cash needed. He added: “We didn’t know what the night shelter’s future would be, there was that threat it could close.
“We’re putting up six to eight people each night, we know there’s a need for it. It was heart-wrenching to think it might not be there.”
“There can be frustration as to why it comes to the Lottery bailing us out, as it were, but there are austerity measures and we know other charities are folding.
“Now we can improve our services as well as maintain.
“It’s a joy to get this funding; a real blessing for both Streetlife and myself.”
Streetlife has been granted a total of £436,814, over four years, to continue its work.
The cash means the charity can now take on a new part-time counsellor, as well as keep on its shelter team leader and lifeskills worker.
It will also pay for volunteers to be trained in Level Two counselling, in order to broaden their skillset and offer more expert help. And the cash ensures training residentials, to give vulnerable young people a wealth of new experiences, can be continued.
The Streetlife charity’s chief executive Jane Hugo said: “This funding will help us to ensure they have access to a safe space and the support to develop their skills, address any issues and ultimately live a positive, independent life.”