CHILDREN and families in desperate need are at risk of losing vital help as the axe hangs over a Stafford charity.
Home-Start Stafford and District, which has supported thousands of families across Stafford and Stone for almost 28 years, could be forced to shut within weeks because of a lack of cash.
But the move would spell disaster for the rocketing numbers of families referred to it each year.
The charity provides trained volunteers who support those affected by physical or mental health issues, child behavioural issues, domestic violence, social and financial problems.
They are even on hand just to provide a few hours support or a listening ear to parents struggling without family help.
Last week, the three members of staff were warned that the charity may have to close within weeks with the loss of their jobs.
Now staff are urging people to get behind their battle to save services.
Bosses have written to all county and borough councillors highlighting their plight and seeking financial support to continue.
They are also urging the public to add support and make their views known to borough and county councillors.
Cynthia Roscoe, chairman of Home Start Stafford, said: “We are currently going through a very difficult time, especially with the unprecedented number of families we are supporting.
"As the majority of referrals come from health and county council-run departments, we are disappointed that we have not been successful in our funding tenders and bids from these sectors.
“Over a year we need something in the region of £60,000 to operate but on a slightly lower staffing level we could manage on less.
"We’re looking at our options but we need something monumental , otherwise we might not be here in the next few weeks.”
The charity is part of the national Home-Start organisation but each branch raises its own funding.
It has previously relied on grant help from health and councils but this year lost out to other organisations.
The charity normally helps around 60 families each year but referrals have risen in the last 11 months, with at least 80 families receiving support.
One parent, who asked not to be named, said she suffered with depression and found it hard to leave her home with her one-year-old daughter.
Her husband was physically and mentally disadvantaged, which made it difficult for him to look after their daughter for any length of time without pain.
She said: “Home Start came to us and it seemed like a lifeline. Our volunteer’s quiet and calmness helped ground me and make me feel safe.I can’t imagine how things would have been without Home Start’s intervention.”