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Finsbury charity hit by cuts makes plea for help

PUBLISHED: 07:06 07 November 2011

Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson

Archant

A charity which provides a “vital lifeline” to isolated elderly and vulnerable people in the borough is facing an uncertain future.

About Finsbury and Clerkenwell Volunteers

The charity is 40 years old

It has around 50 volunteers and 171 clients

Funds are spent on one member of staff and the upkeep of its two ambulances

Volunteers regularly visit clients as part of the befriending service

The telephone club involves volunteers making regular reassuring phonecalls – 4,000 were made last year to 120 clients.

The charity’s two ambulances cover more than 12,000 miles a year

A self-financing lunch club is run from the Vibast Centre in Old Street, Islington.

It provides befriending, regular phonecalls, shopping trips, lunch trips and day trips to the borough’s elderly and vulnerable

Last year, it made 4,000 regular reassurance phonecalls to 120 people in need

Islington Council axed the funding for Finsbury and Clerkenwell Volunteers after 40 years in July as it made swingeing cutbacks in the face of a massive £100 million shortfall in cash from central government up until 2015.

Since then the volunteer-led outreach charity, which offers befriending among other services, has received some cash and support from the Cripplegate Foundation and one or two corporate supporters, but it is still a long way short of the £51,000 it used to get.

And the charity’s remaining funds are likely to run out in the next six months if it is unable to source further income.

Chair Andrew Thompson, who lives off City Road, Finsbury, said: “Many people say to us that if they didn’t have the connection with the organisation they would have a very much more limited quality of life. Some have families that have moved away and some are in high rise flats where there is less community support. It is all about isolation.”

He explained that the charity has already cut one full-time and one part-time member of staff to deal with the funding crisis, leaving one part time member of staff to coordinate the service with extra help from the volunteers. Mr Thompson said that one positive aspect to come out of the situation is the way in which all the volunteers have rallied around to ensure the services continue.

Mr Thompson, who started volunteering for the charity six years ago alongside his job in recruitment in the city, continued: “We have had promises of further support from Cripplegate but we need to demonstrate that we are making progress in sourcing additional funding, and that they are not just extending our existence by another six months. They want us to demonstrate that we have restructured and that we are moving forward.”

He continued: “We would really like a business or organisation to support us annually. In return we would be very happy to recognise their support perhaps by having their name on our ambulances, website and letter heading.

“There are a lot of very wealthy firms which operate in EC1, but outside their doors there is poverty on a scale they don’t necessarily realise.”

For more information about the charity, contact details and information on volunteering, visit www.finsburyvolunteers.org.uk


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