A CHARITY for the homeless has announced that one of its branches will have to close because of a funding shortage – only days after being honoured by the Prime Minister.

David Cameron this week presented Nightstop North- East – which offers emergency accommodation to homeless youngsters – with a Big Society award for its “invaluable service reaching out a helping hand to some of the region’s most vulnerable young people”.

Days later, the Teesside branch of the charity announced it will close its office next month following a prolonged funding struggle.

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Manager Jane Cavana, who has worked at the Redcar branch since it opened in 1997, criticised the Government for its lack of support for the voluntary sector.

She said the impact of central government cuts meant more charities and organisations than ever before are competing for the same sources of funding.

“Other charities that once relied on funding from their local authorities have had their funding stopped due to cuts and have been forced to start fighting for the same pots of money we relied on.

“Once upon a time, you could apply for four grants and get one, but now you are lucky if you get one out of ten.

There are going to be a lot of groups that will not survive this climate, and that means some vital services will be lost.

“We all thought we were delivering the big society before David Cameron came out with the phrase. It seems that all it means is that they want the same work doing, but doing on the cheap.

“I have not seen much evidence of support from the Government, just more and more places struggling.”

Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop, who represents Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “David Cameron’s Big Society was relying on volunteers and charity groups providing services.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said about £530m was being spent on supporting charities during the Spending Review period.

Nightstop is the only group in the Teesside area to offer emergency accommodation to 16 to 25-year-olds. The charity places homeless youngsters in the homes of trained volunteers on a temporary basis and offers support and advice to help them onto their feet.

Nightstop North-East will expand its coverage to include Teesside and hopes to raise enough funds to place a fulltime worker in the area from next month.

Ms Cavana, who will be one of two people to lose her job when the branch closes, said: “This way, at least the service can continue. There are so many young people that would not be where they are today without our help.”

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