Charity needs £60,000 to survive

A CHARITY that helps more than 150 families with children who have special needs is facing closure if a lifeline of more than £60,000 cannot be found.The Stowmarket and Area Opportunity Group's centre, built in Stowmarket with the help of Lotto funding eight years ago, will have to close by Christmas if the funding crisis cannot be eased.

By John Howard

A CHARITY that helps more than 150 families with children who have special needs is facing closure if a lifeline of more than £60,000 cannot be found.

The Stowmarket and Area Opportunity Group's centre, built in Stowmarket with the help of Lotto funding eight years ago, will have to close by Christmas if the funding crisis cannot be eased.

Staff at the centre, which has facilities including a special sensory room as well as highly trained workers and parent volunteers, has launched a fundraising campaign to save the group.


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Vicki Galt, fundraising co-ordinator and a former intensive care nurse, said the requirements of new legislation were contributing to the drain on their resources.

She said: "We will close by Christmas if we do not raise the money. Through the years it has always been a struggle and we only get 10% of our money in grants from the council. The other 90% we have to find ourselves.

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"If we can raise £60,000 to £65,000 that will get us through to April when we are in a new financial year and can apply for more grants.

"In a way we have become a victim of our own success, we are offering more services and are open longer than other similar groups.

"There is also a problem with more and more legislation which requires changes to be made.

"One example of this is that we need to change the fencing around the centre because the wood could leave children with splinters in their hands. We have not been profligate.''

The centre offers respite care for parents, advice on coping with children with special needs and play areas for the youngsters.

Parents can also bring other brothers and sisters along who do not have special needs, so the family can play together.

On Monday a fundraising open air concert has been organised from 7pm at Chilton Fields in Stowmarket offering an evening of music, entertainment, a clown, bouncy castle, craft stalls and refreshments.

Tickets cost £5 in advance or £7 on the door and can be bought from Vicki Galt on 01359 240693. It is hoped 300 people will attend and help raise £2,000 from the event.

n Can you help the Stowmarket and Area Opportunity Group survive?

Cheques can be made payable to the group and sent to "Stowmarket and Area Opportunity Group", Chilton Fields, Chilton Way, Stowmarket, Suffolk. IP14 1SZ.

Or contact fundraising co-ordinator Vicki Galt on 01359 240693.

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