Charity 'needed more than ever' pleas for funding amid closure threat

Clarissa Belson with First Focus service users outside their centre on Oak Streek in Fakenham. 

Clarissa Belson, First Focus project manager (bottom right) with First Focus service users outside their centre on Oak Streek in Fakenham. - Credit: First Focus

A Fakenham charity's management say it is under serious threat of closing if it can not find crucial funding.

First Focus in Fakenham faces closure this autumn as its national lottery grant has come to an end. Without a new source of income, the charity and its services will stop before the end of the year.

Clarissa Belson, First Focus project manager, said she wants to be there for people if they need them.

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

First Focus Project Manager, Clarissa Belson. Picture: Aaron McMillan - Credit: Archant

“First Focus needs your help to continue helping you," she said.

“By your (help) I mean the community of Fakenham and surrounding areas, no one ever wants to need us but if they do, I want to make sure we are still here, somewhere you can go and feel you belong.


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“After the 15 months we have just had, First Focus is more important than ever and will be needed more than ever.”

At its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Pict

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

The charity has been adopted by Fakenham's Original Factory Shop as its 'charity of the year' and is taking part in the EDP's 'cash for charities' project.

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At its centre on 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.

Along with this, they offer one-to-one help, support and advice for those needing assistance, from filling out important forms, to job applications and CVs.

There is also the community fridge and food outlet, offering supplies for whoever needs them. As well as laptops, and free internet access.

At its centre on Oak Street, First Focus provides a friendly meeting place and activity centre. Pict

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

The charity, which has helped thousands of people in the Fakenham area for almost 19 years, has especially stepped up to support the community during the lockdowns, choosing not to be furloughed as it wanted to support its service users.

Throughout the lockdowns its services included collecting people’s shopping and prescriptions, making well-being phone calls and checking on the mental health of people who were living in isolation.

Back in January, Mrs Belson said they were looking to secure additional funding, but focused on ensuring this support network was there for its users.

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