Sidmouth’s Help Link service to close next month
13:19 14 August 2015
Vulnerable residents will lose an important support lifeline when one of the Sid Valley’s largest charities folds after 20 years.
The Sidmouth Help Link, which offers assistance to people in need as well as matching potential volunteers with local voluntary organisations, will close at the end of September.
The charity has recruited and placed more than 1,000 volunteers and carried out some 100,000 hours of community tasks since it opened in 1995.
Project co-ordinator Jenny Goodhall said the organisation’s finances – which rely primarily on donations and fundraising events - had become unsustainable.
She said: “We are running out of money, basically.
“There is always a gap between running costs and what we can raise.
“It is going to leave a vacuum in Sidmouth - it will be quite a loss to both the organisations and people who want to volunteer.”
The help link, which operates out of the Community Partnership building in Mill Street, received funding from Devon County Council, which Jenny said had also been cut.
In addition to its main activities, the charity runs minibus outings for people with mobility problems, offers bereavement support and recently launched a telephone helpline service.
Jenny said news of the closure had been met with ‘shock and disappointment’ from the organisation’s volunteers, who range in age from just 10 to 94.
She added: “It’s just harder and harder for voluntary organisations to be sustainable and find money year-on-year.
“We have had lottery funding in the past, but it gives out less money now, and the money tends to go to new things and not for running costs for existing organisations.”
The help link will now assess what, if anything, can be saved to continue operating as a stand-alone service.
Jenny added: “Sidmouth has been very good to us. This type of service doesn’t exist in any other East Devon towns.”