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Hopes to save some functions as Sidmouth Help Link closes

PUBLISHED: 19:30 14 February 2017

Sidmouth Help Link

Sidmouth Help Link

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A charity that promotes volunteering and publishes free community information is set to close next month after 20 years due to a lack of funding.

Trustees have been unable to find a sustainable source of money since an anonymous donation pulled Sidmouth Help Link back from the brink in a ‘much-reduced’ form in 2015.

But there are early hopes that other voluntary organisations and Sidmouth Town Council can absorb some of the charity’s functions and utilise its dedicated supporters.

Help Link coordinator Jenny Goodhall said: “Since our closure and rescue in 2015 and our reopening, offering much-reduced services, the trustees have endeavoured to find funding to restart the help scheme, which matched volunteers and people requesting help on a one-to-one basis.

“This has not proved possible so the trustees have made the decision to close.”

She added: “The demise of the Help Scheme has been a loss to the town and left a vacuum, so we are pleased to hear that other organisations may be stepping into the breach to provide our current services when they are lost.”

The Help Scheme recruited 1,000 volunteers who spent 100,000 hours supporting vulnerable residents before the charity’s brief closure in 2015.

The funding from an anonymous benefactor meant trustees were only able to bring back the volunteer scheme – which promotes volunteering, places volunteers and will continue until the charity closes its doors in March – and the ‘Ask Us!’ information service.

The trustees intend to publish the final editions of their free community information booklets on what to do when someone dies, information for carers and a home-shopping guide.

Di Fuller, who chairs the town’s health and care forum, said: “The planned closure of Sidmouth Help Link has dismayed many who use it and those who have tried to keep it going the last couple of years.

“We hope that with the support of some other voluntary organisations and the town council we can maintain part of the services.

“There’s a lot of will in the town.”

She said its work would link well with the new Westbank Healthy Neighbourhoods project, which launched recently in Sidmouth.

Its manager, Sarah Forde, said they are initially seeking volunteers to befriend people coming home from hospital – people to cook meals, collect prescriptions and other practical support – but they will see what other gaps there are.

Anyone interested can contact Sarah on 01392 823690.

The Help Link can be reached by emailing help@sidmouthhelplink.org.uk.

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