Lotto grant saves health charity from axe in Sheffield

Healthy living: Volunteer co-ordinator Michelle Smedley with client James Cunningham at a Community Health Works session.

Healthy living: Volunteer co-ordinator Michelle Smedley with client James Cunningham at a Community Health Works session.

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A HEALTH charity in Sheffield has avoided closing its doors for the last time thanks to a last-minute lottery grant.

Community Health Works, which provides health support for 400 vulnerable people in Southey Green and Parson Cross, was due to close after it lost its council funding.

But the organisation, founded as the Healthy Cross charity 20 years ago, has been given a last-minute reprieve.

A £100,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund has given the charity the funds to develop its Personal Health Improvement Targets scheme.

Now managers hope the money will allow them to build up hard evidence that its work is physically and financially worthwhile.

The charity says the scheme helps individuals take small, but significant, steps to improving their own health. It saves the NHS money by reducing GP visits and avoiding the need for further treatments.

Health Works manager Tim Woolliscroft said: “It’s fantastic news that we have been awarded this grant, especially coming just 10 days before we would have had to close forever.

“While we, and the people we work directly with, know our project is incredibly effective and efficient, we have never been able to build up the data required to prove it to other funders.

“This project will allow us to do just that, which should mean we will be able to bring in much more funding.”

Community Health Works provides confidence-boosting gym classes, swimming sessions and one-to-one support for vulnerable people.

They lost three-quarters of their funding last month, and bosses were worried they would have to close for good.

They had to cut staff numbers from 20 to eight and many of their courses have already fallen by the wayside.

But the funding means the charity is now looking to hire four new staff, including a development officer, volunteer co-ordinator and two community health development workers.

“Over the next 12 months we intend to make this programme even better by extending it into areas of health need across north east Sheffield and working more closely with GPs, community groups and other health professionals,” said Mr Woolliscroft.

“We will also be developing a range of new projects.”

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