Sunderland charity Hope 4 Kidz appeals to Government to change grant criteria

A Sunderland-based children’s charity is appealing to the Government to amend the grant criteria to help good causes receive the small business grant.

By Katy Wheeler
Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 2:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th April 2020, 3:37 pm
 Hope 4 Kidz Christmas Toy Appeal at Sunderland Royal Hospital with chairty founder Viv Watts and Chloe Gray, 9
Hope 4 Kidz Christmas Toy Appeal at Sunderland Royal Hospital with chairty founder Viv Watts and Chloe Gray, 9

Hope 4 Kidz has been running since 2007 and in that time has helped more than 56,500 young people with special needs and their families.

But now the charity is facing an uncertain future because it has “fallen through the cracks” of the current legislation which sees businesses which pay little or receive rates relief eligible for £10,000.

Each year the Sunderland Echo Toy Appeal teams up with Hope 4 Kidz to brighten up Christmases in hospitals and hospices.

Sunderland Royal Hospital staff patients and parents are joined by Viv Watts, Kevin Ball, Kieron -Brady and Ian Whyte as they pose with many donated Easter Eggs in 2019

Last Christmas, with the support of our designated drop-off points across the city, more than 3,000 gifts were donated.

Viv Watts, chief executive of Hope 4 Kidz, is now appealing to everyone to join the national #NeverMoreNeeded campaign – which is due to be debated in the House of Lords this Thursday (April 30) – to give charities the financial support they need.

She said the charity has been told it is not eligible for any kind of grant.

“We currently pay 20 per cent business rates for our office at Bridge House,” said Viv.

“We are probably paying more than most of the other businesses at the centre yet they are all entitled to the £10,000 grant and we can’t get anything at all.

“As a very small charity we don’t have large reserves and our fundraising came to a complete halt at the end of March.

“The staff are now on furlough and like many other small organisations which have received no financial support will struggle to pay core expenses in June and July.

“This may lead to many smaller organisations and businesses closing their doors.”

She added :“Hope 4 Kidz provided support and equipment for families and young people in need who can’t help anywhere else this vital service may end if some financial support is not forthcoming.”

Viv has been refused the £10,000 grant but is unsure as to why – particularly as she has been led to believe that scout groups and CICs have been given the money.

She has now written to councillors, MPs and to the Home Secretary, The Rt. Hon Dominic Raab, to highlight the situation.

“I can’t get any clear information as to why we are not eligible and it seems we are penalised because we are paying more rates than many businesses,” said Viv.

“It’s a very worrying situation and I am very concerned for the future of the charity – and the jobs of my team – if this isn’t rectified.”

With regular fundraising activities cancelled, charities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those affected on Wearside is St Benedict’s Hospice in Ryhope.

The specialist palliative care centre has put out an appeal for donations after it’s lost hundreds of thousands of expected funds from cancelled sponsored events, as well as the closure of its seven charity shops and on site cafe.

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