A Haverhill charity that helps people deal with debt and housing issues will be able to double the number of people it assists after receiving the biggest grant in its history.
Given the fact that 64 per cent of the clients assisted by Reach Community Projects require help in managing debt, largely because of rent arrears, the award of £31,500 through the Nationwide Building Society community grants scheme will be music to the ears of many.
The money will be used by Reach to employ an extra part/time community outreach advisor to work alongside Jo Goodhall, who has a four to five months waiting list for clients, such is the demand for her services.
The money will also enable Reach to provide some additional admin support.
Henry Wilson MBE, the charity’s projects director, said of the grant: “It’s massive. It’s the biggest grant we’ve ever had by about 80 per cent, in fact I think it’s 81 per cent higher than we’ve ever had before.
“The most we’ve ever had before is £17,500 and we were tickled pink to get than one.
“We were encouraged to apply for it by the Suffolk Community Foundation.
“We didn’t necessarily expect to be successful on our first attempt at securing the funding so when we got the news that we had been successful we were almost ‘right, ok’. Of course were were exited, no doubt about it but we just thought this was going to be really oversubscribed (with applications).
“We were not too worried. We had such low expectations that we would get it so of course when we got it we were absolutely amazed.
“It is amazing. It’s huge because when you think that our turnover last year was £180,000, you can tell what sort of size it is.”
Jo is currently able to see about 40 clients per year in Haverhill and the surrounding rural area, so the grant will, said Mr Wilson, enable that figure to be doubled.
Although the grant will enable Reach to take on an extra community outreach advisor, such is the current demand for help from people in debt, the charity still has so much more it could do.
“We are just scratching the surface in what’s going on in the rural areas. We are just firefighting at the moment,” added Mr Wilson.”
Reach was one of just 12 charities in the East of England to be awarded a grant from Nationwide, which made £500,000 available across the region.
Nationwide invited applications for grants of up to £50,000 for housing projects that have the potential to strengthen communities and help make a difference to them.
Andy Westhead, Nationwide’s Regional Director for the East of England area, said: “We know that there are many people who have been homeless or have experienced family or close friends without a home of their own, so it’s imperative that we do something about this.
“Helping people into homes of their own is at the heart of what we do as a building society, which is why we’re making funding available for local housing projects.
“In fact, we’re making £22 million available for the next over five years across the UK to do just this and ensure everyone has a place fit to call home.”
A Community Board of Nationwide members, employees and local housing experts was appointed to have a say on which local community projects were supported.
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