Charity for families of prisoners could close in two months

David Doonan, chief executive of Support, Help and Advice for Relatives and Friends of Prisoners, says it would take a miracle to save the charity

Charity for families of prisoners could close
Charity for families of prisoners could close

A national charity that supports the families of prisoners is on the brink of closure because of a lack of funds.  

Shrewsbury-based Support, Help and Advice for Relatives and Friends of Prisoners, registered as a charity since 2003, could close in two months’ time unless additional funding can be found.

David Doonan, chief executive of Sharp, is the only remaining member of staff at the charity after it was forced to make its six employees redundant.

"For a number of years I have run the charity by writing bids to grant-making trusts," said Doonan. "It is not the most popular of causes; we support families of prisoners, so it is very difficult to raise money.

"This year I’ve written more bids and letters of request than ever before and we are just not getting any funding, so it looks like we will have to close in two months. It is a real shame."

Sharp’s income has fallen from £133,000 in 2006 to £80,000 in 2011. The charity doesn’t expect to have any income in 2012.

Last year, the charity helped 3,300 families of prisoners through its services, which range from a helpline to resettlement support once prisoners are released.

Its last family support worker was made redundant in June, said Doonan.

Sharp has 20 volunteers on its books, but has reduced the number working each week from six to three.

Doonan said that only a "miracle, a generous benefactor or the government putting its money where its mouth is instead of talking hot air" could save the charity.

A survey by Clinks, the umbrella group of criminal justice charities and voluntary organisations, found that 77 per cent of its members were using their reserves to survive and 55 per cent had made redundancies in 2011.

Doonan added: "I put it down to the economic climate and what is happening socially and economically in the UK at the moment.

"We do very good work. Large grant-making bodies, unlike the general public, realise this is a major and important contribution to our society.

"I’ve written so many bids. We have not changed dramatically, but the economic climate has. Some trusts have replied saying their funds have had to close."

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