A FUNDING shortage has forced a children’s charity to axe one its “lifeline” services sparking concern that parents will be left without vital support.

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Shine, based in Gorleston, works with youngsters with disabilities and additional needs - such as Asperger’s syndrome - as well as their families and also runs a successful youth club, day care services and holiday breaks for children.

But the group is having to cut the services of its family support workers, who advise parents on a one-to-one basis helping them to understand their child’s condition and provide guidance on how to deal with it, as their funding has dried up.

The charity’s three outreach workers, who cost about £40,000 per year, have historically been financed by grants and fundraising events but the pot is now empty and despite the best efforts of staff, extra cash to keep them going has not been secured.

Louise Eastwood, Shine chairman, said the charity had written to businesses and banks in the hope of generating funds but the appeals had been unsuccessful and left the group “stumped”.

She added: “It’s a very sad time but we can’t keep the workers or the families dangling. If we haven’t got the money to pay them we can’t keep them so we have had to create a situation of redundancy.”

The support workers’ services will have completely gone by September and their loss has saddened parents, including Anne Davison who was recommended to Shine by her paediatrician after her seven-year-old son Adam was diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Since then she has received invaluable help and advice from one of the charity’s support workers.

Anne, 34, from Horsley Drive, Gorleston, said: “They have been absolutely fantastic. We knew nothing about Asperger’s, we weren’t sure what the condition was and they explained it to us and helped us learn to deal with it.

“They have come with me to meetings at the school and helped us fill out disability benefit forms. Without that help we wouldn’t be where we are now.”

The mum-of-two said the support workers had been a “lifeline” for her and her family and was worried about the effect their loss would have, especially on parents being introduced to a condition such as aspergers.

“Without them it’s going to be very hard, it’s a learning curve everyday,” Anne added. “There’s been times when me and the family support worker have cried and laughed together. Without them I don’t know where I’d be, I think I’d be really lost.”

Dr Eastwood stressed the charity’s other services, including its holiday breaks, are going to continue and staff would maintain their search for funding in the hope the support workers could be re-instated next year.

● If you can help the charity with any kind of funding call 01493 661000 or email info@shine-gy.org.uk

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