Vital Hartlepool charity is set to close due to lack of funding

Service users with their children and volunteers of Patch Family Support. Picture by FRANK REID

Service users with their children and volunteers of Patch Family Support. Picture by FRANK REID

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A Hartlepool charity that has given support to generations of families for 24 years is to close due to a lack of funding.

Patch Family Support in Stranton has helped about 800 parents and youngsters a year and runs a wide range of services.

Marcus Bradley (4) playing during the final day of the Patch Family Support. Picture by FRANK REID

Marcus Bradley (4) playing during the final day of the Patch Family Support. Picture by FRANK REID

But all of its services are to close for good tomorrow after funding ran dry.

Families who use Patch say the loss will have a huge impact on them and the whole town.

Manager Jan Dobson said they are trying to refer families to other agencies in town.

She said: “A lot of our service users don’t want to be referred anywhere else, they want to stay with us.

Robert Bayliss aged 3

Robert Bayliss aged 3

“The older children say they don’t want Patch to close.

“One little boy wrote a letter and got his mam to take it to the council.

“The problem has been, especially since the recession, more people are trying to access less funding and it just isn’t there.

“I think if the levels of families we were helping were dropping it would be a natural conclusion, but that’s not the case.

Volunteers and service users (left to right) Sam Black-Hawks, Christine Carnall, Michael Baggett, Carol Harland and Sharon Foulds help to pack up. Picture by FRANK REID

Volunteers and service users (left to right) Sam Black-Hawks, Christine Carnall, Michael Baggett, Carol Harland and Sharon Foulds help to pack up. Picture by FRANK REID

“It’s just a shame because we have still got a lot of work to do.”

Patch offered support to families with children under 11 who face a range of challenges.

It has been supported in the past by Children In Need, the National Lottery and is charity of the year for Sainsbury in Billingham.

It also offered help with parenting skills and support, one-to-one support in people’s homes, loans of safety equipment and a healthy eating programme, as well as out-of-school groups.

Staff (left to right) Sheena Keers, Sue Currell, Angela Atkinson and Jan Dobson. Picture by FRANK REID

Staff (left to right) Sheena Keers, Sue Currell, Angela Atkinson and Jan Dobson. Picture by FRANK REID

It employs 11 staff and 25 volunteers, many of whom the charity has trained itself.

Jan, who will be looking for a new job along with the rest of the staff, added: “Our volunteers have made close friends within the organisation so it is a massive loss to everybody.

“My concern for Hartlepool is the diminishing voluntary sector. If we are closing it means other people will be in the same position and that’s going to have a massive impact on Hartlepool.”

Christine Carnall, a volunteer and mum to four-year-old Marcus, said: “They have helped me greatly.

“I have done lots of courses which has helped with my confidence.

“Before I came here I was very low and didn’t have many friends but I have made lots. They have also helped with my parenting as well.”

Patch has raised £4million over its 24 years in town but Jan said its reserves have now all been used.

She and the staff gave a heartfelt thanks to everyone that has supported them over the year including Camerons Brewery who own the building.