A “lifeline” Blackpool charity for homeless young people which was threatened with imminent closure has been handed its own lifeline – and finally secured its future for years to come.
Last summer bosses at Streetlife warned they were facing a desperate battle for survival after council funding was cut as part of budget savings, and said the shelter could close for good as early as the end of this month.
We will be able to continue to provide vital support.
Having previously been awarded cash from Children in Need and the Amy Winehouse Foundation to keep going, the withdrawal of council help dealt the service a serious hammer blow.
But the charity has now been awarded more than £430,000 of funding from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities pot, to be used over the next four years.
The cash secures some of the long-established support offered by the charity as well as allowing for extra staff and services to be added.
And it means the service has some long-term security for the first time in years.
For more than 20 years it has been a haven for those who have found life tough on the streets.
Every night of the week it offers Blackpool’s homeless a bed and somewhere to eat and freshen up.
Each year more than 400 homeless youngsters are helped by the group, many of whom had been reduced to sleeping rough.
Jane Hugo, chief executive of Streetlife, said: “This is fabulous news for Streetlife and will go a long way to sustaining the future of our vital work.”
Streetlife offers support services and training, and emergency shelter for homeless or vulnerable young people in Blackpool, with a base on Buchanan Street and a shelter in St John’s Square.
But just a year ago the charity came perilously close to closure when Blackpool Council announced it was to cut its £45,000 annual funding because of swingeing Government savings.
Streetlife was one of several local charities to suffer a major blow after the Council announced it would not be providing direct funding as it had to make drastic cuts in its spending.
It led to a desperate appeal in The Gazette last August where Mrs Hugo asked for people to come forward with help to keep it going, saying there was only enough money to allow the shelter to survive until March 31.
Mrs Hugo said that public support in the months following this frank admission meant its cashflow had been boosted, but that difficult decisions were still having to be made.
She added: “We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from the public, so every time we’ve done our accounts the situation has improved.
“But before we knew we had the Lottery funding we were looking at things being critical in October.
“We were starting to have to plan for that.
“The Lottery money has taken that away – it’s really changed the picture.
“We will still have to fund raise though.”
This latest grant, for £436,814, is hugely significant, helping preserve the charity’s long-term future for the first time.
Mrs Hugo added: “When you know the need (for the service) is still there, it’s such a relief.
“Without us these young people haven’t got anywhere else to go.”
The cash has secured the roles of a number of existing staff at the charity, its shelter team leader and a lifeskills worker, and offers the opportunity for a part-time counsellor to be taken on.
It also ensures training for young people can be continued and bosses will use some of the grant to train volunteers in Level Two counselling.
Lee Abbott, a youth worker whose role has been secured by the funding, said: “It’s a great service that’s being supported, this is a lifeline for these young people.”
To volunteer with Streetlife contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second donation for shelter
A virtual learning provider has given Streetlife a donation to help it offer real life skills and training.
Virtual College, an online learning provider, has given £1,500 to the Blackpool based charity, which supports vulnerable and homeless young people.
The cash will be used to fund three residential training sessions, each for eight people, to take part in planning, budgeting and cooking activities, develop their communication and life skills and boost self esteem.
They will also be encouraged to access further learning opportunities.
Jane Hugo, Streetlife chief executive, said: “We really value donations such as these, especially during this period of austerity.”