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Stafford and Stone Signpost Centre fighting funding crisis

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

By Sarah Marshall

  • SIGNPOST . . . The Stafford Signpost Centre.

  • LIFELINE...Mark Harrison.

  • JOB HELP...Jake Higgott.

  • HELPING . . . Emma-Louise Philpott.

  • LIFELINE . . . Mark Harrison.

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DETERMINED staff, volunteers and supporters are fighting a funding crisis to ensure an organisation which provides a lifeline across Stafford and Stone continues.

The number of residents using the Signpost centres is rocketing as people rush to get advice on benefits, job help, use the computers and access the food bank.

But workers from the charity, which also provides outreach help in Barlaston, are now approaching trusts and funding bodies to bring in vital cash and to spread the word about what is on offer.

The centres, one based at Shakespeare Road in Stafford and the other at the Frank Jordan Centre in Stone, hosts sessions by Mid Staffs Mind, drug and alcohol support through Adsis, Stafford and Rural Homes, Pickering and Butters solicitors and mum and toddler groups.

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Mark Harrison, 43, from Milton Grove, now volunteers at the Highfields centre after finding himself alone and struggling.

"I am an alcoholic waiting to go into rehab. Coming here and volunteering gets me out of the house.

"I really don't know what I would have done without it. I don't think I would have survived."

Linda Stone, deputy centre manager at the Highfields centre in Stafford, said: "In 2013 the number of adult help sessions doubled from 326 in June to 647 in December.

"Signposting to other agencies also increased over four fold from 69 in June to 321 in December. The number of sessions by external agencies also increased to cope with the numbers of people being signposted in."

Karen Wardell, manager for Stone and Barlaston, said: "There has been a significant increase in people being referred to us from the job centre for help, with a lot needing help to use the computers and requests to our food bank have doubled in the past six months."

The centres have in the past been funded by lottery cash and jointly by Stafford Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group, but demands on budgets are making it more and more difficult

But bosses are confident they will get the cash they need.

Ken Downs, Signposts area manager, said: "It is too much of a valuable service to lose and I am confident we will get the funding we need to continue."

Emma-Louise Philpott, 31, of Merrivale Road, who volunteers at the Signpost, said: "There are real opportunities provided here and it means a lot to people," she said.

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