Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Council gives £40,000 to charities hit by pandemic

Council gives £40,000 to charities hit by pandemic

GRANTS worth nearly £40,000 have been awarded to charities in Henley as they try to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Henley Town Council received applications from seven charities requesting a total of  £66,194 but had a budget of less than two-thirds of that to allocate.

Members of the finance strategy and management committee agreed the awards after receiving presentations at a virtual meeting.

A total of £5,000 will go to Riverside Counselling, which provides affordable counselling and psychotherapy to adults and young people.

The charity, which is based in Northfield End, had asked for twice that amount.

It moved to a cloud-based system earlier this year when face-to-face meetings were no longer possible due to the coronavirus pandemic and received some funding from the Oxfordshire Community Foundation to establish virtual counselling.

Hilary Arthur, director and clinical leader, said the charity would play a vital role in helping the community recover from the impact of the pandemic.

She explained: “Up to 10 million people will need support as a direct consequence and 1.5 million of those will be under 18.

“This crisis will have a massive impact on the community if we don’t support services such as ours. The financial crisis is affecting our clients, who pay what they can afford.

“Fifty per cent of this year’s income was generated by fundraising and three years ago we required only 26 per cent. We want to be able to support those who are most disadvantaged to be able to support their lives.”

She said that just over a third of Riverside’s clients came from Henley, with 161 sessions being run in the week prior to the meeting.

Councillor Ian Reissman, who chairs the committee, said: “The number of people helped is both uplifting and shocking — to think that many people in our town are in need of help.”

Councillor Laurence Plant added: “I massively applaud them for being so proactive and they do have high costs.”

The River & Rowing Museum in Mill Meadows was awarded £15,000.

It was closed to the public from March to August. Dr Sarah Posey, the musuem director, said new sources of revenue had been created, such as charging for car parking since re-opening.

She said: “Our need is great despite our best efforts. The focus of the application is to help us help ourselves and the funding is very much about supporting our trusts and foundations co-ordinator post.

“It is absolutely the bread and butter of ensuring we’ve got the funds to operate.

“We are an independent charity and we are in receipt of no consistent public funding, in contrast to many other independent museums.”

She said the museum was Henley’s “only year-round cultural and arts venue” and it would be welcoming its two millionth visitor in January.

Dr Posey added: “Our position is unique and economically valuable to the town. We draw visitors to the town who are local, national and international.

“We have further to go to be more financially sustainable and this year has been incredibly difficult, as it has been for many other museums and arts venues across the country. There is a projected 50 per cent reduction in our income and we rely on commercial income for 65 per cent of our funds.”

The museum had requested £20,000 per year but received three-quarters of that, in line with what was awarded during the previous three-year cycle.

Bluebells, a day centre for people with dementia which meets at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road, was awarded the £8,640 that it requested.

Glen Lambert, who is a town councillor, addressed the committee as chairman of trustees and said the money would be used to cover rental charges.

Bluebells used to be run by Age UK Oxfordshire, but folded in April 2018 after losing its subsidy from Oxfordshire County Council.

It was revived a year later following a fundraing campaign launched by Councillor Lambert when he was Mayor.

The other grants were as follows: d:two family centre (£5,000); Headway Thames Valley (£5,000); Be Free Young Carers (£1,000).

All the grants will be annual for the next three years, starting on April 1, apart from Headway, which has a two-year agreement.

A one-off grant of £6,500 was awarded to Henley Rowing Club, which is specifically for improvements to its clubhouse kitchen. The club had asked for £12,500.

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