A charity which runs an advice centre for disabled people has raised enough cash to keep the service going after funding cuts.
Possability People needed to raise £29,000 to fund its Advice Centre, which offers support to more than 4,500 people each year in Brighton and Hove.
It managed to raise the cash it needed through the crowdfunder, but also secure a grant to start a welfare benefits and tribunal support service.
The new grant will enable the organisation to develop a peer support programme where disabled people who have successfully challenged benefit decisions will help current claimants going through the same process.
This means the organisation will be able to start seeing a limited number of disabled people for face to face appointments for the first time since the bulk of its funding stopped at the end of March.
The centre faced a crisis after the city’s clinical commissioning group said it could no longer fund it after March this year.
Brighton and Hove CCG told the charity it must ‘focus NHS funding on supporting services which have been proven to have the most impact on people’s health and that are not already provided in the community’.
Geraldine Des Moulins, Possability People’s chief executive, said: “There is an overwhelming demand for help from disabled people refused Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and other allowances, who have few options at an incredibly stressful time. Imagine the effect on your health if you have no idea how you are going to get by for the next few weeks, left alone for the months and months an appeal challenge can take?
“We are excited to be starting this new service by disabled people who have successfully been through an appeal or tribunal. They have first hand experience of the stress and difficulties it can cause, so are well placed to support others going through the same thing.
“It’s early days, but together with the money donated through our crowdfunder appeal, we can now start making appointments to see more disabled people and give them the support they need.”
Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove, said: “I was upset that in this era of Universal Credit roll-out, service cuts and welfare slash and burn, that the Disability Advice Centre would not be there after March to provide guidance to my constituents.
“The successful crowd-funding shows just how much the service is valued in the city. The smooth running of my constituency office certainly depends on it.
“Thank you to all the people who donated; this people power will give help and support to those in the city that are one of the most isolated and in-need groups.”
Possability People’s Advice Centre supports adults who live in the Brighton and Hove area who are disabled, have a health condition, or are older people, carers, or other professionals with a disabled client.
It helps with benefits, debt, food bank referrals and other support and advice.
If you need help or advice, phone 01273 894050 or email email@example.com