A lack of funding means a charity that provides furniture, including children’s beds, and white goods to households which are facing extreme circumstances has had to be ‘mothballed.’
The Loft, which is based at Westwood and is part of the Thanet Iceberg Project, takes referrals from social services, local councils, health services and women’s’ refuges, to provide essential household items that have been either donated by the community or built in their workshops. An advice service helping people tackle housing and other issues was also offered.
But money is drying up due to funders ‘taking a hiatus’ from issuing grants following a period of large donation making during covid.
One of those funders was a main grant source for The Loft which cannot now continue until further sources are found.
The result has been the laying off of two full time staff and founder Alexander Roarke who also worked full time but took a part time wage.
The Lounge café and community space run by Roarke and wife Ann, also at Westwood Business Park, remains open and run by volunteers.
Roarke, who last year launched the Off The Floor scheme building wooden beds and providing them to every family in Thanet who has children sleeping on floors or sofas, said: “We have had an increased need but we have had a decrease in the donations pot and unfortunately we then lost a fund we were relying on so we will have to mothball The Loft until/if I am able to find more funding sources.”
The Loft, as part of Thanet Iceberg Project, has been running since 2018 and helps people who cannot afford to furnish their homes, are living with no or broken furniture and/or have no beds or bedding.
Those in need include the newly housed, victims of domestic violence, low-income families or victims of personal tragedy.
Roarke sad: “Sadly I had to lay everyone off, including myself but we are keeping The Lounge café open as we have groups like Headway Kent who meet in there which means that will pay the rent and allow us to keep the community space open.
“If I find more funding I would like to resurrect The Loft but we have lots of people who assume somebody else will fund us. I have agencies that I have had to tell ‘I can’t help your clients’ and they all say they need us but they have funding but none have given us funding.
“We get referrals from Porchlight, Thanet and Kent councils and the NHS but if we are not funded then (the service) cannot happen.”
Roarke says he is working on funding bids and looking for new sources but needs to find at least £10,000 with The Loft costing some £7,000 per month to run including wages and transport costs.
It means for now The Loft remains shelved and those that would have benefitted from its help will have to find it elsewhere. The news comes on the heels of the closure of Our Kitchen social supermarket in Margate by SEK group last month due to rising costs and an estimated bill of £30,000 for utilities.
Roarke says one way people can help is to make use of The Lounge as any profit funds the charity.
The Lounge is based at 6a Westwood Business Park, behind Home bargains in Margate. It is open Monday to Friday between 9am and 3:30pm and has free wifi, a meeting room and bottomless tea and coffee.
Friday will be the last day for paid staff with volunteers running the café from Monday (April 24)
If you are able to give some time to help get in touch via email@example.com
Parents-of-four Ann and Roarke have been the driving force behind a number of schemes to help people living below the poverty line, from previously running The Kitchen CT9 community cafe to Christmas box projects, advice and practical help through the Thanet Iceberg Project, The Loft and the Off The Floor scheme.
It is getting ridiculous with companies not funding a great project. I know people they have helped, I’ve also donated bits to them. This project needs community help to keep going.
I’m sure those that have funded this in the past will feel most gratified that you feel it’s ridiculous they don’t continue to do so. Would it not perhaps be better to thank them for their past support and encourage others to take up the reins?
I was meaning in general about companies that don’t support great projects.