A CHARITY which helps underprivileged children says it will struggle to continue its vital work because of rent increases.
The Gap Foundation, based in Hetton, says that because of a hike in rent from Sunderland City Council it won’t be able to help as many disadvantaged young people as it currently does.
The charity used a storage space in Hendon before moving to Hetton Lyons Industrial Estate three years ago after its premises were broken into by thieves on a number of occasions.
Founder Sheila Roxby said that although the Foundation has an income of £9,000, an increase in its rent and rates to the council from £4,000 to £7,900 will have a devastating effect.
“We don’t know where to go from here,” said Mrs Roxby. “The rent is just under £4,000 a year but the increase is going to make it £7,900.
“By the time we pay the £7,900 plus the £500 that we have to pay in council tax it will leave us with absolutely nothing.”
The lease on the property is due to expire on May 11. The charity says a condition of signing a new lease would be a 28-day eviction notice, meaning it could be told to leave its current premises.
The Foundation argues this will make it difficult to store a decent amount of goods, which they pass on for donations to worthy causes.
Mrs Roxby is now calling on businesses in the area to come forward and provide a storage space at a cheaper rate.
She said: “I would love it if a firm said ‘We have some storage space’.”
Colin Clark, head of land and property at Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland City Council values the contribution of all voluntary and community groups in the city including the Gap Foundation, and provides support wherever it can.
“Over several years financial and practical help to the Gap Foundation has extended from providing premises on peppercorn rents and finding alternative premises to better meet their requirements, to offering short term leases at discounted rents.
“The council’s primary aim for its portfolio of industrial properties is to help create employment opportunities and in the interests of council tax payers across the city, generate a financial return.
“On this occasion we have offered Gap Foundation discounted rent for premises that are currently vacant but this would be subject to them relocating should the space be required for an organisation who would pay the full market rent.”
Businesses who would like to help The Gap Foundation should call Mrs Roxby on 07932 227677.