A community support centre which has won £12m for disabled, sick and injured people with benefit and debt problems has launched an appeal to find £50,000 to remain open.
Salford Unemployed Community Resource Centre in Greater Manchester – which Unite Community members help run – is known as the city’s “fourth emergency service” because of the assistance it provides to those in need.
But government budget cuts for the voluntary sector have put the future of the centre, which receives part of its funding from Salford Council, in doubt.
Manager Alec McFadden said, “The centre is regarded by its multitude of clients as being the fourth emergency service in Salford.
“After 37 years in existence, the centre faces a real financial problem and it needs new funding to ensure the crucial work it does, on behalf of the vulnerable people of Salford, continues.
“The austerity policy of this government and the previous coalition government has resulted in a massive reduction in grant aid funding to the voluntary sector.
“Over the past few years the centre staff have brought in over £12m for our clients and have always provided this as a free service.”
Unite Community member and veteran trade union activist George Tapp is one of those who has been helped by the centre.
Tapp, who was a blacklisted electrician, was run over at anti-blacklisting protest against construction firm Bam outside the Manchester City FC stadium in 2013.
The 65-year-old broke both his legs and suffered a fractured scull.
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Tapp said, “The staff at the centre came to visit me in hospital and launched a campaign to raise funds for me. They raised a couple of grand, which I was really grateful for.
“I was in a wheelchair when I was released from hospital and the staff at the centre advised me on which benefits I was entitled to claim and helped me through the process.
“I don’t know what I would have done without their help. If the centre was to ever close I don’t know what people would do, or where they would go to get help and support.”
The appeal has received support from I, Daniel Blake director Ken Loach and the actor and anti–blacklist campaigner Ricky Tomlinson, after Unite Community Greater Manchester branch teamed up with the centre to keep it open.
The pair will be joined by Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey and punk-poet Attila the Stockbroker at the Moston Miners Community Arts Centre on Thursday November 23 from 4pm to midnight for a fundraising event.
Unite Community Greater Manchester branch secretary Emily Jones said, “The centre provides an incredibly important service that is run on the goodwill of volunteers. It has to be saved.”
To find more information on the fundraising event or to make a donation call (0161) 789-2999.