Starter Packs charity forced to close due to lack of funding

A lifeline charity which has helped thousands of vulnerable people start in new homes has been forced to close its doors after more than a decade.

Starter Packs Angus (SPA) will shut at the end of this month after the board of the Arbroath-based organisation took the “tough” decision in the face of a funding shortage.

However, officials are clinging to the hope the service may rise from the ashes if a partnership can be struck with another organisation.

Starter Packs Angus was established by Scottish Churches Housing Action, Angus Council and local churches as a direct response to the serious problems of homelessness in the county.

The charity, which operates from Arbroath’s former Ladyloan School, helps provides the basics for families or individuals setting up in a new tenancy, including utensils, bedding and other items.

SPA chairperson Lis Hill said: “We have had such stupendous support from the people of Angus, so it was a very sore one to make this decision.”

Despite some support in kind, the charity does not receive funding from either the local authority or the NHS.

And although running costs are kept at a minimum, Mrs Hill said the money was simply not there to keep Starter Packs operating.

“This decision will have a big impact on four significant groups,” added the chairman. “Most importantly, those who have benefitted from a service that allows them to accept a tenancy.”

“This, in turn, ensures families can stay together.

“It’s not just the homeless we help. Sometimes there are dads who want to be able to have contact with their children when a family breaks up but don’t have a high chair, cot or bedding to be able to allow them to stay at their home.”

Among the thousands of people Starter Packs Angus has helped are drug and alcohol addicts, domestic abuse victims and ex-service personnel who have struggled to find their feet after returning to civilian life.”

The chairperson said the charity remains determined to investigate every possibility for survival, either on its own or with another group.

“Our rent is paid up until the end of July but we are not throwing in the towel completely,” she added.

“If we go it will leave a huge gap in provision for the homeless but there are other voluntary organisations facing similar core funding problems and having to close or cut their services, so maybe there is something we could do with them.

“We need a white knight, or an offer from someone who might be willing to go into partnership.”