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Charity warns it might not be here next year, despite support from MP

PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:52 28 July 2020

At its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Picture: Aaron McMillan

At its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Picture: Aaron McMillan

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The project manager of a Fakenham charity is worried it will not be here next year, despite the support of their MP.

First Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson and Member of Parliament for the constituency of Broadland, Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Aaron McMillanFirst Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson and Member of Parliament for the constituency of Broadland, Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Aaron McMillan

First Focus in Fakenham could have to shut its doors as its lottery funding runs out in September, despite working tirelessly through the pandemic.

The charity, which has helped thousands of people in the Fakenham area over the last 18 years, has especially stepped up to support the community during the lockdown, choosing not to be furloughed as it wanted to support their service users.

At its centre in Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre where people receive help with issues such as mental and physical health problems, unemployment and financial difficulties.

The charity also runs the community fridge, which has food close to its sell by date being given to whoever needs it.

First Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson. Picture: Aaron McMillanFirst Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson. Picture: Aaron McMillan

Project manager Clarrisa Belson said the had helped in a range of ways in lockdown, including collecting people’s shopping and prescriptions, making well-being phone calls and checking people’s mental health who were living in isolation.

However, Mrs Belson said this work meant other pressing issues have been put to one side.

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She said: “We have spent the last four months, running around physically doing things for people, and the admin and the paperwork side of it has been forgotten.

At its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Picture: Aaron McMillanAt its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Picture: Aaron McMillan

“There have been more priorities, like getting people food and prescriptions and, checking in.”.

The centre, which reopened last week, had a visit from MP for Broadland, Jerome Mayhew, who said he wants to use the recess to look at organisations which are helping the community.

He spent the morning talking to volunteers and people who use the service and said that “we should be doing more of it around the constituency.”

Mr Mayhew said he did not know about the funding issues but said that today was about “having those conversations”, He added that “if there’s anything I can do to help with the funding to unlock doors, then I absolutely will do.”

Member of Parliament for the constituency of Broadland, Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Aaron McMillanMember of Parliament for the constituency of Broadland, Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Aaron McMillan

The centre is still adjusting to social distancing guidelines, with only 12 people are allowed in at one time

Being used to a more of drop-in environment, Mrs Belson said it has been strange to adjust.

“The sad part is we can’t just have drop-ins.

“It goes against everything the First Focus is about. It does feel a bit strange at the moment.”


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