Charity which helps struggling families in Tower Hamlets could close unless it gets more funding

Head of Home-Start Tower Hamlets, Pauke Arrindell. Picture: Ken Mears

Head of Home-Start Tower Hamlets, Pauke Arrindell. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A charity which helps struggling families in Tower Hamlets might not see the end of the year unless it gets a cash injection.

Head of Home-Start Tower Hamlets, Pauke Arrindell. Picture: Ken Mears

Head of Home-Start Tower Hamlets, Pauke Arrindell. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Home-Start Tower Hamlets, based in the Attlee Community Centre near Brick Lane, supports families with children under five who suffer financial difficulties, domestic abuse or illness.

After a five-year grant from the Big Lottery Fund ended last year, and money from other donors stopped this year, the charity’s gradually run out of money.

“People don’t want to fund charities if they’re already financially sound,” scheme coordinator Pauke Arrindell said.

“So you’re always approaching a financial crisis, and then people fund you.

Head of Home-Start Tower Hamlets, Pauke Arrindell. Picture: Ken Mears

Head of Home-Start Tower Hamlets, Pauke Arrindell. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant


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“That’s gone to the extreme now.”

The charity is run by volunteers, with one paid employee (Pauke) and a board of trustees. They had a bookkeeper and part-time worker, who were forced into redundancy.

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“It’s frustrating, because if it wasn’t for finance we could triple our capacity,” Pauke said.

“There’s so much need in Tower Hamlets, and we’re never short of volunteers or families.”

Families self-refer, or get referred to the charity by social workers. Volunteers, who all have parenting experience and undergo nine days of training, are specifically matched to families they have the skills to help.

“Volunteers work with the families, rather than for them,” Pauke said.

“If they have financial issues, the volunteer sits with them as they ring the bills company, but they won’t ring for them.

“They’re not babysitters and they don’t do the schoolrun. The aim is to stop these families being isolated and make sure they don’t have to rely on anyone to support themselves.”

Volunteers deal with a range of problems – from postnatal depression to single parents with no one to talk to.

“The most distressing thing is the fact we won’t be there for the families that need us anymore,” Tania Shaikh said, the chair of the board of trustees.

“We get so many referrals from statutory bodies, but there’s a lack of awareness about how much it costs us.

“If people are making referrals from the private or statutory sector, they should recognise there’s a cost attached to each family.”

The charity is now undertaking a massive awareness-raising drive, with volunteers taking photos around Tower Hamlets in their Home-Start t-shirts. They’ll be hosting a fair at the centre on July 21, in a final attempt to increase awareness and raise funds.

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