A CHARITY that helps some of Hartlepool’s most disadvantaged youngsters is looking forward to a bright future after being awarded almost £100,000 by Children In Need.
Hartlepool Families First, which needs to raise £400,000 a year to keep going, is celebrating after landing £99,860 from the BBC children’s charity.
The major cash boost will help secure the charity’s after-school and holiday activities that were at risk of being axed.
There were emotional scenes followed by jubilation as Families First bosses learned their bid for funding had been successful.
Manager Paul Thompson said: “When the email came through the whole top floor was full of screams and shouts. It got quite emotional.
“To find that we can now continue offering these services that we thought we may have to close for some of the most disadvantaged kids in the town, it is a great relief.”
The money will be released to the charity, based at Cafe 177, in York Road, Hartlepool, over three years.
They were awarded the cash after an extensive application process that lasted around six months.
Paul added: “It takes a lot of pressure off us. Now we have got a big piece of funding behind us you often find other funders are willing to support you.
“It gives the organisation a bit of stability and security. We can plan for the next three years.
“In terms of the kids and families it means we can offer them that specialist after school care they find difficult to access through mainstream providers.
“It just goes to show people in Hartlepool that every year when they put a couple of pounds in a bucket in a pub or to someone in fancy dress that the money does come back to support local causes.”
Families First supports young people with a whole host of challenging conditions including autism, Down’s syndrome and many physical disabilities.
Its after-school and holiday activities, which the Children in Need grant will pay towards, cost around £45,000 a year to run.
It includes taking them on trips all over the North-East.
Paul added: “We can’t take our foot off the accelerator, we have got to keep up the fundraising but we are very grateful for this donation.”