STRUGGLING families are facing the risk of not being able to access support as a Winchester charity is facing a huge hole in its funding.

Home-Start Winchester and Districts has said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic all fundraising is on hold and its trustees are appealing for donations not just to help them through the current crisis but to ensure its future survival.

The organisation relies heavily on fundraising events for its core funding, the only regular funding it receives is £8,000 annually from Winchester City Council and £7,000 from local businesses. The remaining £65,000 must be raised each year but in the current climate such events are impossible.

“Even in affluent Winchester there are many families with young children who really struggle with poverty, isolation, low self-esteem, disability, post-natal depression or mental health issues,” says chairman Liz Cooper.

“Our trained volunteers work alongside parents to help raise their self-confidence and their ability to cope in an increasingly pressured society but years of austerity have left statutory authorities unable to help such families and sometimes Home-Start is all there is.”

She continued: “It shouldn’t be like this. We know that investment in the early years is vital for giving children the best start in life and is a cost-effective way of preventing a whole range of intractable and expensive problems in later years. However the Government’s spending in response to the pandemic is going elsewhere and it is hard to see this essential long-term investment in society actually happening. In addition the impact of lockdown on families is likely to cause an increase in demand for supporting vulnerable families with young children.”

The charity needs short-term funding, but also needs to secure longer-term core funding, and is asking for the public’s help.

“Home-Start Winchester runs a tight ship; most of our work is carried out by trained volunteers and our admin costs are low, but to lose in excess of £30,000 in one year is potentially life-threatening to such a small charity,” she said.

Donations can be made through Virgin Money Giving by searching ‘Home-Start Winchester and Districts’ or via

for information on how to become a Friend of Home-Start.