Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Carlisle funds crisis charity vows to battle on

A charity that almost decided to call it a day after nearly three decades in operation has vowed to fight on.

Penny Ritson photo
Penny Ritson

Carlisle Overseas Aid Trust (COAT) has been running for 26 years but its future had come into doubt after dwindling support.

Their funding had been halved in just three years to around £5,000 per year which left charity volunteers feeling as though they were able to help fewer people.

Historically around 90 per cent of the groups funding came from the Give As You Earn scheme, a system where supporters could donate a small part of their wage automatically to a good cause. However, as the system has become less popular with employers and with previous supporters now retiring, COAT’s funding dried up.

Now leaders at the charity, which supports small grassroots projects abroad, have decided to carry on and increase their fundraising efforts.

“We thought we would have to either have a big push and increase awareness to raise more money or call it a day,” said the charity’s chairwoman Penny Ritson. “It would have been devastating if we had to close, the money we raise goes to all kinds of projects that makes a real difference to peoples lives and they struggle to find funding elsewhere.

“The group had an emergency meeting and we decided to try out new things. We would try to get more people to make a regular donation and increase fundraising events.

“It’s very, very important that we continually get money as whatever money we have goes right out onto a project.”

Already this year the charity has made small grants to a student nurse who’s doing a work placement in the Philippines so she can take medical supplies with her, and to a student primary school teacher so she can take pencils to a school while out working in Uganda.

The group believe that a little amount of money can go a long way and encourage projects that may have a long-term benefit.

Last year they provided funding for a small African village to install beehives on its outskirts, which warned off elephants that were stealing food.

The group are hoping to organise a series of events in the next 12 months with table top sales, quizzes and a special cooking day with local celebrity chef John Crouch.

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