Charity hit by lack of funds

A CAMPAIGN called SOBS – Save Our Bobby Scheme – has been launched to rescue a free carpentry service that makes elderly people s homes safer. The scheme, which has helped secure 10,212 homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in six years, is threatened

A CAMPAIGN called SOBS - Save Our Bobby Scheme - has been launched to rescue a free carpentry service that makes elderly people's homes safer.

The scheme, which has helped secure 10,212 homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough in six years, is threatened by lack of funds.

Until last month, the service was free to people over 60 and it employed four carpenters.

It has now made two of the handymen redundant, raised the age of clients to 70 and has started charging £20. It is still free for victims of crime.

Terry Turner, the scheme's founder and chief executive, said: "We were sad to have to do this. It is terrible to make people redundant but it was a strategy to survive. If there is no Bobby Scheme, there will be no one out there doing what we do."

Among the thank-you letters received by the charity is one from Warboys saying: "Our bungalow is not visible to other properties in the neighbourhood and I feel vulnerable when someone I do not know comes to the door. Mr Nicholls (carpenter Tony Nicholls) fitted safety chains to both the front and back doors and also replaced the bolts on the door to the kitchen. This has made me feel a lot safer. He was also very friendly and polite - and swept up when he had finished."

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Since it has become public that the scheme is under threat, a support group has been set up and one well-wisher, a woman from Harpenden, has sent the charity hundreds of locks, bolts and peepholes left as redundant stock.

Myra Prior, from Brampton, contacted The Hunts Post to say: "The men who provide this service are not just tradesmen, but caring people who give comfort and reassurance to often very traumatised victims.

"This is a most worthy service for the elderly victims of crime and it prevents intrusion into people's homes."

When the scheme began, it was funded with a £220,000 Lottery grant which lasted for the first three years. It has also received money from the Huntingdon Freemen's Charity, Cambridge City Council and Willingham Parish Council. Councillor Patricia Leech, who was Mayor of Huntingdon two years ago, made the Bobby Scheme her mayoral charity.

Mr Turner said they had just been turned down for more Lottery funding but were hoping to be successful on a future application. He said the charity had enough money to keep going until July. With two carpenters, it costs £100,000 a year to run.

INFORMATION: The Bobby Scheme is run under the umbrella of Cambridgeshire Constabulary's Shrievalty Trust. To contact the scheme, call 07866 602 100. Donations can be sent to: The Bobby Scheme, 154 Northgate, Alconbury Airfield, Huntingdonshire, PE28 4WX.

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