TWO charities providing support for local communities are set to merge in a bid to save money while investing in frontline services.

Winchester-based Communities First Wessex has been in talks with Community First New Forest about how they might work closer together.

It is expected that the two organisations will join forces on April 1, 2020, but the change will impact on management with plans to combine functions which, the charities say, will offer joined up support and services across more than half of Hampshire.

The groups say that they will still maintain a presence in the areas that they both operate in and will maintain close links with local groups and their needs.

It has also said that the merger will allow both organisations to continue to invest in frontline community services and improve the reach and impact of the voluntary sector.

Beverley Jones, chairman of Communities First Wessex, and Mary Falk, co-chair of Community First New Forest have released a joint statement announcing the proposal.

They said: “We firmly believe this merger will create a stronger, more efficient and effective organisation to sustain and advance services for the benefit of our local communities.

“It is a great opportunity to create an organisation which will have real impact across a large part of Hampshire.

“We will have the scale and capacity to bid for more substantial funding, to compete for larger contracts and to invest in developing new services.

“Our ability to do this is all the more important in the light of current, and prospect of further, reductions in public sector funding, reductions which mean many more people are likely to need charity support.

“Our whole organisations, board members, staff and volunteers are delighted at the prospect of this merger.”

Both charities help voluntary and community groups to deliver greater impact for their communities by harnessing the commitment and enthusiasm of local volunteers.