A group helping single homeless women is appealing for help to keep going after its funding was axed by Kirklees Council.
The Wish Project has had to make 10 of its 13 staff redundant and close four of its five sites across Huddersfield and Dewsbury after Kirklees said a long-running contract with the council was being terminated.
The charity says it needs £14,000 to meet its immediate needs and faces running costs of £1,000 a week.
Along with financial help, the charity is seeking premises for its high-risk hostel after the landlord of the property currently being used said it wanted the building back. The hostel will close on Friday this week.
Manager Cheryl Roberts Creagh said The Wish Project, which had provided 33 beds, was now operating from a single property providing just six beds.
The charity provides accommodation for vulnerable single women, including ex-offenders, those with drug and alcohol issues and mental health problems, women involved in the sex trade and victims of trafficking.
Cheryl said Kirklees had been funding the charity to the tune of £250,000 a year. The final tranche of funding from March, 2017, finished at the end of last month.
She said the charity had asked Kirklees to continue funding the group at £56,000 for its remaining six-bed facility, but that request had been turned down. The group had also looked at going into partnerships with other organisations and collaborate, but without success.
Cheryl said the closure of the high-risk hostel was a particularly hard blow, adding: “It is a sad day for the people we are trying to help. We really have affected change for thousands of women’s lives.”
She said: “We are appealing to local businesses to help us find a building for the high-risk hostel. We have to close the doors on Friday, so our priority is to get it up and running again. It could be a five-bedroom house or a mill which could provide bed spaces. We are not picky at the moment.”
Cheryl said women who would have been helped by The Wish Project were now being referred out of the Kirklees area, but stressed that while there were several women’s refuges, they were aimed at women with children fleeing domestic violence and were unsuitable for women with the kind of issues referred to the charity.
Said Cheryl: “The Wish Project has been around for 25 years and I have been with the project for 10 years during which time we developed it from 10 beds to 33. I totally understand everyone is in a precarious position because there are major cuts across all organisations, but while other organisations have taken 25% cuts, but we are facing a 100% cut.”
A Kirklees Council spokesperson said: “The council’s contract with the Wish foundation to offer support to vulnerable women facing housing issues is due to end on 20 January 2018.
"Following notification from The Wish Project that stated they were choosing to close the service we have been working with them to ensure that we can offer alternative support to the people who would otherwise have been referred to them. There are a range of other services available to support single women who face issues of homelessness.
"Since the contract was awarded The Wish Project has significantly reduced their offer to just six units and the support they offer is now only available Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm, reducing from the 24 hour, 7 day a week offer – which is required to support this vulnerable group of women.
"As such the council have been in communication with the Wish Project regarding its future operation and their requirements of financing this.
"The people who have been using the service have been found alternative accommodation and we will continue to ensure vulnerable women are supported into housing through the other channels available to us."
Anyone facing homelessness can contact the council’s housing solutions team on 01484 221350.