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150,000 Big Society transition funding for Blackfriars Settlement

Local charity Blackfriars Settlement has been named as one of the beneficiaries of £15 million funding announced by the Government on Tuesday.

For 124 years the charity has worked with young people, older people and people with mental health problems in North Southwark and has been a focal point for community activity in the Bankside area.

The 151,207 grant is part of the the second round of awards from the Government's Transition Fund which is designed to help the charities most vulnerable to public spending cuts prepare for new opportunities being created through the so-called Big Society.

"Big Society will open billions of pounds worth of new opportunities for charities but some need immediate support," says Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.

"We've set up the Transition Fund quickly so that the charities most vulnerable to public spending cuts won't be left to sink or swim."

Last month Blackfriars Settlement director Julie Corbett-Bird led a delegation to Southwark Council's cabinet setting out the stark challenges facing the organisation, which as a multi-purpose charity relies on funding from several different public sector sources, all of which are making cuts.

"This funding will support delivery of current business plan objectives and address sustainability issues," says Julie Corbett-Bird.

"The funds will provide support for the development of enterprise initiatives, streamlining across the organisation, reshaping services, upgrading our financial systems so we could offer financial management to other organisations and last but not least funding for a dedicated volunteer administrator who will be responsible for recruitment, vetting, support and placing of volunteers."

Blackfriars Settlement currently has about 100 volunteers but Ms Corbett-Bird is convinced that with proper support and coordination there is scope for plenty more people to get involved in the organisation's work.

She added: "This is good news for us given the redevelopment, the revised deadline for Communitybuilders which resulted in us not being able to access any of these funds to support the shortfall on our fit-out costs and the contraction in our income in 2011/2012 which will put pressure on financing our core costs.

"It provides limited support in the short-term to services which have suffered loss of income but we are addressing this as best we can in partnership with other organisations."

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