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Voluntary organisation SPACE helps more than 7,000 people in first year

Reporter:

James Hockaday

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More than 7,000 people were helped by the new voluntary sector partnership SPACE in its first year in operation.

SPACE (Slough Prevention Alliance Community Engagement), a consortium of 31 organisations which work together for the benefit of Slough residents’ issues, presented its annual report to the Slough Wellbeing Board on Wednesday.

The consortium, run by Slough Council for Voluntary Services (SCVS), started in April last year.

SPACE’s Church Street advice centre took over from Slough Citizens Advice Bureau, which closed its Slough office in March 2016 after the council withdrew funding.

The report, presented by SCVS head of operations Jesal Dhokia and SPACE operations manager Joanna Flaxman, said that it had helped 7,216 people.

Face-to-face information was given to 4,652 residents and SPACE’s online help service was visited 13,676 times with an average of 560 monthly unique users.

More than 350 charities and community groups were supported by the partnership throughout the year, which helped to bring in about £1.5million of external grant funding from 35 charities.

SPACE’s 292 volunteers put in an estimated £2,080,500-worth of work in its first year.

At the meeting, board member and SBC deputy leader Cllr Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central) said: “We can’t underestimate the value of the voluntary sector. There are lots of people that do things quite selflessly.”

A total of 25 residents complained about SPACE in its first year.

Overall 79 per cent of clients said they were satisfied with services when surveyed, however only 47 per cent said they were satisfied with carer support services.

Ms Dhokia said reaching out to carers who do not seek help, known as ‘hidden carers’, would be a major focus point this year.

In December 2016, SPACE began trialling a ‘wellbeing prescribing’ service at the Farnham Road Surgery, which allows doctors to refer patients to SPACE.

At the meeting, wellbeing board member Dr Jim O’Donnell said: “It’s been a breath of fresh air to have this opportunity.”

The wellbeing board’s meeting took place at the council offices in St Martins Place in Bath Road.

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