Reprieve for care charity

A CHARITY which supports hundreds of young carers in Huntingdonshire has won a reprieve from closure with cash at the eleventh hour. However, the St Ives-based group, West Anglia Crossroads, has said that the money will tide them over only until the end o

A CHARITY which supports hundreds of young carers in Huntingdonshire has won a reprieve from closure with cash at the eleventh hour.

However, the St Ives-based group, West Anglia Crossroads, has said that the money will tide them over only until the end of August. It will still have to axe its weekends away for the youngsters - often the only break they will get - and there will be no one-to-one sessions for children who are desperate to have someone to talk to.

As reported by The Hunts Post last week, the charity is a meeting point for some 280 young carers in Huntingdonshire, youngsters who dedicate large amounts of their time looking after a parent or sibling and sometimes both.

The scheme has been a victim of its own success - at the same that Cambridgeshire County Council was hesitating to give the charity more money, the council was spending money on training social workers to spot young carers and refer them to the scheme.

After coverage in The Hunts Post last week, the council has said it will give the charity the extra £10,000 it needs to keep it alive. The council was already giving West Anglia Crossroads £21,000 a year and said at one point, there was no more cash.

Also last week, the charity received £1,000 from Huntingdon Town Council. It had already received £47,400 from the Huntingdon Freemen's Charity but this money must be spent on Huntingdon youngsters only and the charity covers the whole of Huntingdonshire.

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The charity, with three staff, two of them part-time, costs £80,000 a year to run. For the past six years, it has been funded with two, three-year Lottery grants. It is hoping to achieve more Lottery funding in September but this year's money ran out in March.

The manager of the charity's young carers' project, Lucy Francklin, said: "This money means we can stay open. We can keep functioning through the summer. We will still have to ask staff to reapply for their jobs, we will not be able to fund the residential weekends or the one-to-one sessions but we will be able to run the activity groups so the youngsters can meet up every

three weeks for sports, crafts, cooking or just a chat."

As reported last week, the charity would usually take 60 children away to the Hill Top outdoor activities centre in Norfolk. This year, only 15 will go. The trip has been paid for with a grant of £4,000 from one of the Cambridgeshire Youth Banks. This is a group of young people invited to distribute government cash to other young people's projects.

INFORMATION: To donate to the young carers project run by West Anglia Crossroads, contact them at: West Anglia Crossroads Caring for Carers, 8 The Meadow, Meadow Lane, St Ives, PE27 4LG. Telephone 0845 241 0954. See www.westangliacrossroads.org.uk

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