Some of society’s most vulnerable people are helped by small charities and voluntary groups providing niche services – and yet these are the very organisations most affected by austerity cut-backs in funding.

However, a new charity, set up by Huddersfield man Ian Lawson, hopes to turn the loose change we all have in our pockets into a lifeline for Kirklees-based groups.

Ian, who is Corporate and Social Responsibility leader at Cummins Turbo Technologies in St Andrew’s Road, says his work over the past three years with local charities such as Support to Recovery (offering help to those experiencing mental health problems), Talkthru (for those facing an unplanned pregnancy or baby loss) and KRASACC (rape and sexual abuse counselling), has revealed that many are struggling to keep their heads above water.

He explained: “When I started in the corporate responsibility role people in charities were saying that it was hard to get funding, but they weren’t really concerned that they weren’t going to get any more. Now they’re really worried.

“If these services disappear then the knock-on effect will be huge.”

Ian’s Loose Change Charity aims to attract supporters who will donate just £1 a week - money that will then be given to small charities in order to pay wages. He has identified staffing costs as an area of particular need and added: “While there are a number of organisations that can provide funding for projects (Cummins included) there appears to be a gap in providing funding for staff.”

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He points to the charity Kirklees Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre as an example of an organisation in need. “In November last year KRASACC’S funding was coming to an end and they had to issue redundancy notices to their seven counsellors,” he said. “In the end they managed to find funding for six, but being made redundant is an annual process for these counsellors. And the pressure on that type of service is going up and up.” (Just a few months ago The Examiner featured a story about the forecasted growth in demand for help from victims of on-line date rape).

The new charity is a personal project for Ian, an IT director with Cummins, prompted by what he’s seen in the charitable sector. He added: “What astonished me when I started going to see charities was the conditions under which they are working, conditions under which these people who have got hearts of gold are trying to do a good job.

“Talkthru, for example, wanted a clean carpet in reception; they had broken chairs that needed replacing; and the last thing they asked for was a kettle. All of that I could help them with through work, but what we couldn’t do is get funding for salaries.”

Ian Lawson at Cummins Turbo Technologies. Pic for Hilarie Stelfox Living.

As well as overseeing the company’s corporate responsibility projects, Ian also raises money for charity by singing with a rock band, Turbo Ted and The William Shatner Tribute Band, formed from Cummins employees, their friends and relatives. He is the lead singer; the drummer is an IT manager and the bass player an engineering placement student. Backing singers include Ian’s wife Sue and sister Christine Kempley. They do three gigs a year and have so far raised £10,000 - latterly donating £3,000 to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

One of the reasons why Ian feels so strongly about supporting charities working with those affected by abuse and mental health problems is that he himself has endured three bouts of clinical depression. He explained: “Now I look at things in a completely different way. Before, when I heard that someone couldn’t get out of bed in the morning I would have said ‘why not?’ and I wouldn’t have understood.

“Unfortunately, some of the charities, like KRASACC, have long waiting lists. If someone needs counselling then they need it now. The charities need the staff to help people.”

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KRASACC management committee member Laura Edwards says those approaching the organisation have to wait up to a month for an assessment and longer for counselling, and the workload is increasing.

In 2015/16 the centre received 319 referrals and provided 1,835 counselling sessions. Its helpline received 1,231 calls for advice and support. By comparison, just three years ago the centre took 241 referrals and provided 1,239 counselling sessions. Helpline traffic has grown by 25%.

The Loose Change Charity needs to sign up 100 supporters to raise the £5,000 it needs to register as a charity. So far, through his own personal network of friends and acquaintances, Ian has signed up 75. The trustees include banker Jonathan Wales, who is connected with a charity in Lowerhouses that provides cookery classes and meals for children during school holidays; Lynva Russell, the former MD of Huddersfield company Holliday Dyes; and artist Gary Makin.

Artist Gary Makin, a survivor of child abuse, says counselling through KRASACC “quite literally saved my life”.

Now 50 years old and with a diagnosis of

dissociative identity disorder and post traumatic stress, he admits to being at such a low ebb before beginning counselling over three years ago that he had considered taking his own life.

Because of his experiences – and gratitude towards the rape and sexual assault counselling service – he is now a trustee of the new Loose Change Charity. He explained: “For the last eight years I have been seeing a psychiatrist and had become suicidal. I didn’t know where to turn any more. Then I went to KRASACC and have been getting specialist help. They are such wonderful people, like angels. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Lucifer's Child by Gary Makin

“There were lots of things I couldn’t do, like talk to people on the phone. And I have problems talking to men. But now she (the counsellor) has got me doing things I couldn’t have imagined doing before.”

While the Loose Change Charity will support KRASACC, Gary says it will also help other small charities just as much in need. He added: “I don’t know what I’d do without KRASACC, and there are other similar sorts of organisations that other people also rely on.”

Gary’s immersion in art has always been a survival strategy but last year he used it to face his deepest, darkest fears by producing a series of works that explored the sensitive and emotive subject matter of child abuse for an exhibition at the Creative Arts Hub in Mirfield. He is a former studio holder of Artists in Mind, the Huddersfield organisation for artists experiencing acute or enduring mental health problems.