Charity which supports disabled people makes plea for funding help

Ella Francis, Nikki David, Michael O'Fee and Tracey Woodhouse from Dish

Ella Francis, Nikki David, Michael O'Fee and Tracey Woodhouse from Dish - Credit: Archant

A charity which works with disabled people across Huntingdonshire could close by March because demand is outstripping its ability to help.

But chief executive Tracy Hyland said: "We will have to sit down to decide if we can stay in business until March."

She said that last year they supported more than 400 people who received awards worth the equivalent of more than £500,000.

The Papworth-based charity provides disabled people with advice and information on a wide range of benefits which may be available to them.

It also helps with form filling and attendance at an increasing number of employment tribunals where 95 per cent of claims have been won.

Dish said: "This is income that can be spent in the local Huntingdonshire economy but it can also support people of all ages with disabilities live independent, dignified, socially inclusive lives.

"However, the harsh reality is that without immediate financial backing, the charity will close in the next four months."

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It said: "For our local authorities and health services not to recognise through commissioning or grant supporting the significant positive impact we have is mind-boggling. If we go under, then who picks up the 500 people per year who rely on our support?"

Dish added: "We are asking for financial support, not only from local authorities and health services but any other philanthropic individual or organisation that can help us."

Ms Hyland said the situation was set against a rising number of referrals - in one recent week alone they had 13 new cases.

She said the charity cost just £70,000 a year to run. It received £3,000 from South Cambridgeshire District Council and, until three years ago, £20,000 from Huntingdonshire District Council.

Cllr John Palmer, of Huntingonshire District Council, said that until March 2017 they had put money into Dish but a decision had been made to rationalise funding, with the CAB becoming responsible for advice and guidance and Hunts Forum supporting the voluntary sector.

He said: "The district council continues to monitor the delivery of the contract, which runs until March 31, 2020.

"We acknowledge and appreciate all the critical work Disability Huntingdonshire do to help people across the district navigate the complex nature of disability benefits in order to help the disabled community live with independence, choice and dignity."