A CHARITY for people suffering with a devastating disease has announced it is likely to close unless it finds immediate emergency funding.

ME North East, which has served young people and adults with ME, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, for the past 20 years has seen a number of lifeline grants cut in the past few years.

Now, ahead of international ME Awareness Day, on Saturday, May 11, the organisation, which is based in Chester-le-Street, has said it is at risk of going under.

Charity boss Jennifer Elliott said: “The current funding situation is dire. The situation is now at a stage that unless we find emergency funding to see us through to the outcome of a number of new grant applications due in autumn we may have to shut down completely.”

ME is a devastating disease which can leave sufferers unable to perform simple tasks or even communicate with their loved ones.

There are over 12,000 people in the North-East with ME and 25 per cent of those are severely affected making them invisible, isolated and neglected.

Ms Elliott said: “We help people understand this complex multi-system disease and adapt to control their energy levels, to secure welfare benefit entitlements when they have to give up work, and to help young people to remain in education to the best of their ability.

“We have been providing this vital support services for some of the most vulnerable people in this region.”

The charity supports people and their families from the Scottish Borders to North Yorkshire and west to Carlisle.

Since it was founded in 2000 the charity has helped over 2,000 people.

Around 20 per cent of these number are young people who need help with ME to fight isolation, remain in education and achieve their aspirations.

ME North East cut its support to young people after 15 years last year as it had been unable to find funding to continue its support.

It is desperately seeking new money to offer support to help children stay in education, fight isolation and to manage their condition.

Ms Elliott said: “We lost our children’s and young person’s worker after 15 years main grant funding, and more recently we lost our adult project worker who was able to visit people with severe in their homes.

“This is a reduction in services we regard as vital, there is no one else in the region to deliver them.

“We are calling on people across the North-East to support us.”

The group is meeting on Saturday from 11.30am in Durham’s Market Place.

To donate visit crowdfunder.co.uk/saving-me-north-east.