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Slough Volunteer Centre to shut unless funding is found

Without a sudden injection of funds, the Slough Volunteer Centre will close its doors to the public in less than a week.

The charity in Osborne Street has been running for about 20 years and helps at least 1,000 people a year find volunteering placements.

Cash from a five-year lottery fund will run out at the end of this month and the centre’s applications for further funding have been unsuccessful.

Centre manager Sajidah Chaudhary puts this down to Government and council cuts, meaning more and more non-profit organisations and charities are applying for grants.

The closure means the walk-in service will stop on Thursday, with the four part-time members of staff leaving for good one week later.

Sajidah said the centre works with smaller charities which do not have websites or potential volunteers who have no access to the internet.

“What is frustrating for us is, there are going to be thousands of people who will miss out, especially people who need face to face,” she said.

“If you are unemployed, you won’t have the money for internet access.”

To run at full capacity, the non-profit centre would need about £70,000 a year but Sajidah says they would need much less than this and could ‘run on a shoestring’ to tide them over until they were able to secure more funding.

“Eventually we would get some more money; we don’t want to throw away everything we have,” she said.

Slough Volunteer Centre received a £57,000 grant in 2012 from Slough Council for Voluntary Service (Slough CVS) and this week, Ramesh Kukar, chief executive of Slough CVS, reacted to the news of the centre’s imminent closure.

He said the centre would need more than a few thousand pounds and a longer-term plan to stay afloat.

He said: “I think it will be a loss to Slough but what it shows is that you need a lot of skills to run a charity, to help support their strategic thinking.

“They worked a lot with people who needed that support to volunteer; that is where there will be a loss.

“Government cuts are going to even more severe so charities are going to become even more important.

“We need more experts with a business background to support them.”

On Wednesday, the centre celebrated its final graduates of the WAVE scheme (Wider Access to for Volunteering for Everyone).

It supports people with additional needs, including ex-offenders and people with learning difficulties or mental health issues.

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