MEMBERS of three Winchester charities were given a much-needed cash boost as part of a district-wide initiative to boost donations to the homeless.

The spare change for real change appeal saw £1500 donated equally to Trinity, the Salvation Army and Night Shelter in a bid to raise money for disadvantaged people and deter begging.

The appeal has involved brightly coloured donation boxes being displayed in banks, restaurants and shops around the city centre for people to donate their spare change which saw between £2-3k raised during 2010-11 when it was first launched.

Chris Turner, executive director for Winchester BID, said: "The donations made by the visitors and residents of Winchester into the 90 spare change for real change boxes in the shops and restaurants across the city allow us to keep begging off the streets and put money where it can make a difference - into the three charities in the city centre that between them support those who are homeless."

Michelle Gardner, director of strategy and fundraising at Trinity, said: “We believe Trinity’s work is very important locally, particularly in the current economic climate, and with the number of people in need of our services increasing all the time.

“We heavily rely on the generosity of the local community to enable us to provide much needed help; we are extremely grateful for the continued support we receive from BID.”

Cheques were officially presented during a meeting held for members of the business community last Friday (March 7).

The meeting was aimed at giving people the opportunity to ask their MP, Steve Brine, questions about the situation with the UK’s economy as well as raise any local issues.

In his speech Mr Brine MP said: “The UK is growing faster than any other county in the EU. We cannot risk everything we have achieved; there are now over 30 million people in work.

“The bad bit is that we’re still not investing enough and we’re still not exporting enough. It’s gotten a lot better than many of us expected; our aim as the government is to make this country independent which does not rely on bail outs.”

Stephen Gates, chairman of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “From a business perspective it was great to hear from an MP who so clearly understands the challenge for businesses in Winchester and the surrounding district.

“There is a clear commitment, which is in line with the Chamber of Commerce's own goals, to have a thriving business community in Winchester - with some real examples of where action could be taken to support this.”