A CHARITY that has served Slough for almost 20 years will close its doors at the end of the month unless it is miraculously granted more funding.
Slough Volunteer Centre, in Osborne Street, is set to cease operations on Friday, March 31 after finances dried up – with the four members of staff set to lose their jobs.
The centre was founded in 1999 to help people from all walks of life find opportunities in the voluntary sector – a particularly helpful amenity for people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and people who had recently left prison.
Conversely, it acted as a key resource for charities that could not afford to advertise for volunteers.
The centre’s database started out on a notebook but currently holds more than 11,000 names of people who are either in voluntary positions or ready for selection.
A five-year lottery fund will expire on March 31 and after Slough Council for Voluntary Service (SCVS) stopped funding them two years ago, it does not seem as though anyone will come to their rescue.
Slough Volunteer Centre manager, Sajitah Chaudhary, said the imminent closure was “a terrible shame”. She said: “The most frustrating thing is that last year we helped 1,000 people. We trained people, we helped people and we taught them about wellbeing.
“All the contacts will be gone, all the organisation will go.”
At the time of writing, Mrs Chaudhary had put in a request to the council asking for a grant of £10,000 to £15,000 to keep the centre afloat.
Mrs Chaudhary said: “I’m hopeful. If your council doesn’t support your service then why should anyone else?”
Eleanor Crier, one of the centre’s founders, said: “Something could have been done if SCVS had had the breadth of vision.
“I am so bitterly disappointed for the people of Slough and this is to their grave disadvantage.”
Ramesh Kukar, CEO of SCVS, said: “They have asked for money but a few thousand pounds won’t save them. They need £70,000 to £80,000 to survive.”
To donate to the centre visit volunteerslough.org.uk/take-action Mr Kukar added that the burden would lie with SCVS when the volunteer centre closes as Slough Volunteer Centre is the only place where prospective candidates can meet face to face with staff - SCVS uses websites so access is limited.
He said: “There will be people who require training before volunteering and there will be people who don’t speak English, that will be an issue.”