Last week – First Step, a local charity for disabled Children, announced that they need to raise £200,000 to avoid closure after losing funding from Havering Council.

The charity in Tangmere Crescent, Elm Park, has continued to provide support for hundreds of children with special needs and disabilities for many years and has become a vital part of the community.

In 2017 First Step lost funding from the local authority and has had to draw further into its charity reserves. The charity has now expressed three options on their future outcome:

Option 1: The charity significantly reduces its services from 1st September 2019 by reducing educational services such as the pre-school and PACC which are both expensive services to run.

Option 2: The charity continues to deliver services but must close by the end of March 2020 due to no funds left in the reserves (the charity is currently running off its reserves.)

Option 3: Fundraising to replace the income they have lost. This would mean having to find £200,000 by March 2019.

Families across the borough have expressed their sadness at the possibility of the ‘one of a kind charity’ closing early next year.

Fay Hough, Havering Coordinator to Jon Cruddas MP and a parent of a child who attended First Step said: 

“My son attended First Step in October 2013 till May 2014. The charity was a lifeline for me and provided essential support during my son’s diagnosis process. The staff become like family, the parents become long life friends and the progress the children make is unbelievable. It would be devastating to families in Havering to lose First Step and it makes me extremely sad that other children wouldn’t be able to access the help my son received.”

Jon Cruddas MP said: “I give my full support to First Step in their attempts to save this wonderful charity. I am appalled that Havering Council have stripped the funding away from a much-needed charity that supports children with special needs and disabilities."