Charity competition and handout ‘stigma’ forces closure of Sheringham Children’s Trust

A trust that has handed out more than �50,000 to bereaved children has been forced to close - because of fierce competition from national charities and the 'stigma' of being seen to receive handouts.

Sheringham Children's Trust has since 1994 given a host of grants to children in Sheringham and the nearby villages - to pay for school equipment, school trips, holidays and clothing.

But, after years of increasing difficulty in finding potential recipients and competing with large charities, the trustees have made their final grants and closed the organisation.

Trustee Martin Preston, whose current colleagues on the trust are GP Dr Peter Sampson, Robina Churchyard and Debbie Matthews, said: 'We do this with a sense of resignation because it is increasingly difficult to compete with the national charities to raise funds.

'The major disappointment has been that so few of the beneficiaries came forward to apply for grants. There seems to be a stigma attached to getting money from charities.'

The trust was set up in July 1994 to provide financial assistance to children, up to their 18th birthday, whose mother or father had died and who lived in the Sheringham area - defined as extending from Lower Kelling in the west to East Runton in the east and inland as far as Baconsthorpe and Bessingham.

The trustees made gifts to beneficiaries on their birthdays and at Christmas, and provided financial assistance in many other ways.

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In addition to the grants for school equipment and trips, holidays and clothing, the trustees made a final grant of at least �1,000 to a beneficiary on their 18th birthday.

Mr Preston said: 'In recent years we have been told about people who were finding it difficult and asked them to make a claim, but they haven't come forward.

'We meet every six months, and at every meeting in the last four to five years we've expressed concerns that the claims were not coming.

'It was also difficult to identity claimants, often because of data protection issues.'

A statement from the trustee said: 'The trustees would wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone, whether individuals or businesses, who have supported the trust by making donations or taking part in fund-raising activities.'

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