A community hub in Sutton Coldfield, that provides vital advice and support services into the local community, is one of the first teams to register for this year’s Great Midlands Fun Run.
Kelly Round, Centre Manager said: “We have 17 different organisations delivering support from Our Place in Farthing Lane, Sutton Coldfield and see an average of over 700 visitors each month.
“In addition we have recently taken on the lead of the Advice Café which was being run by local volunteers who needed help taking the project to the next stage due to increased demand on the service.
“The Advice Café at Our Place is open on the 1st and 3rd Friday of every month, to anyone within the local community who needs free advice or support particularly with housing, benefits, benefit appeals/sanctions, debt and unemployment.
“We also run an established accredited mentoring scheme supporting children aged 6 and over through to adults with social, emotional and mental health issues. The mentoring project has the highest demand, absorbs most of our limited resources and therefore places the highest demand on our fundraising efforts.
“Schools used to have funds available to purchase annual subscriptions to the scheme which provided the majority of our revenue, used primarily on resourcing mentoring sessions and providing ongoing training for our staff and volunteers to deliver the mentoring scheme.
“However, school budget cuts have had a devastating impact on the subscriptions schools are able to purchase which, in this financial year alone, has seen a £20,000 reduction in revenue to Our Place.
“The reduction in revenue has been compounded by the need for the support continuing to increase, as well as the severity of service users’ needs.
“We have received five requests for support in the last two months for children who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or who are self-harming and cannot access support anywhere else!
“We were fortunate that last year, in addition to Our Place volunteers, their family and friends, the Beating Brain Cancer team participated in the Fun Run to raise money for Our Place in memory of Marie Hunter, one of our volunteers who sadly passed away from brain cancer in February 2017.
“That money has gone some way to meeting the deficit in the budget. But, with demand for services increasing and school budgets inevitably reduced further in the next financial year, our income will reduce further which will seriously impact on our ability to support those in the community who most need help.
“Our Place and Beating Brain Cancer will again have a sizeable team in the Fun Run, but with income generation being our single biggest challenge this year we would be so grateful of any additional support and welcome any local schools, businesses or indeed individuals to join our team and help raise money for Our Place.”