A FAMILY support charity is expanding after a west Dorset group closed after it was unable to secure funding.
Home-Start Wessex has announced it is extending its reach to support families in the west of the county after the closure of sister organisation, Home-Start West Dorset.
It said: “It is with great sadness we announce the closure of Home-Start West Dorset.
“As an independent charity, we rely on grants.
“We are devastated that we have not been able to secure sufficient grants to maintain our work for the long term.
“For 15 years, we have been lucky enough to have trained hundreds of volunteers and helped many more hundreds of local families. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped us over the years.”
Now Home-Start Wessex, which said it has been working closely with staff at the west Dorset branch since the announcement, has said it plans to encompass the west Dorset patch.
Kathy Fryatt-Banks, CEO of Home-Start Wessex, said: “All of us here at Home-Start Wessex are very sorry to hear about the closure of Home-Start West Dorset.
“With immediate effect, we are extending our reach to cover West Dorset, including Dorchester, Weymouth, Portland, Bridport and down to Lyme Regis.
“Our reach now covers a large part of the Dorset Council area, including the Purbecks, Swanage, Weymouth, Dorchester and Bridport and the whole of the BCP Council area including, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.
“We also work across the borders of Hampshire and Wiltshire, going as far north as Cranborne and Fordingbridge and as far east as New Milton.
“The population of this area is over 600,000 with many pockets of high-level deprivation.”
The closure of Home-Start West Dorset highlights the funding crisis affecting charities, driven by issues including the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, the group said, despite demand increasing.
“Our service is in greater demand than ever before, with more and more families struggling to cope,” Kathy added.
“We see families going through considerable stress and hardship, including a rise in families who have suffered domestic violence, mental breakdowns and been forced into homelessness.
“We feel for our colleagues at Home-Start West Dorset who have had to make the heartbreaking decision to close.
“We are keen to do what we can to ensure that families in West Dorset can still access the support they need. Because childhood can’t wait.”
For more information on Home-Start Wessex, and to find out more about volunteering opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit homestartwessex.org.uk.