Time running out for DIY support group

The work of volunteers from the Brushes and Spades project can help older people stay independent for longer. NNL-140312-112449001
The work of volunteers from the Brushes and Spades project can help older people stay independent for longer. NNL-140312-112449001

The leader of Daventry’s Brushes and Spades project has revealed it faces closure after running out of funding.

Founded in 2000, the volunteering initiative offered help in gardening, DIY and decorating to hundreds of elderly and disabled people in the area who had no family to turn to for help.

The project was also designed to allow volunteers, often suffering from mental health issues themselves, to make a contribution to their local community.

The project secured five years of funding worth £467,890 in 2009 and after this finished in May, Daventry District Council stepped in with a grant to help the project continue for another six months.

But Carella Davies, who manages the project, said the grant is now exhausted and she has so far been unsuccessful in securing more support to allow the project to continue.

She said: “ It gets very upsetting. We put so much of ourselves into this project and it seems crazy we cannot get funding.

“I have had to make both of the project’s full time staff redundant. We need those staff. The government seems to think we can run the whole world with volunteers.”

At its peak, Brushes and Spades employed 60 volunteers working with more than 300 elderly people a year. Even after significant cuts to funding in the past year, the project has helped 97 elderly and disabled people to remain independent within their own homes. Ms Davies added: “For our volunteers it makes them feel valued, and gives them confidence. Some cannot even meet your eye.

“The project also helps keep old people in their own homes for a few more years.”

“The cost of keeping an elderly person in a home is, conservatively, around £26,000 a year. The minimum cost we can run the entire project for is £30,000.”

“It is just a constant battle to get funding, even for the volunteer centre. Unless we get more funding we will shut in 12 months. There are just so many organisations competing for funding.”

Ms Davies said she was now waiting to hear back from the Henry Smith charity grant,and the Charles Haywood Foundation, but until then the project was in the process of informing its clients of its closure.