TWO Uttoxeter politicians have expressed their sadness at the loss of a charity they have supported since its creation.
Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths and Staffordshire county councillor Geoff Morrison both supported Rakemark Respite, a holiday club for children with special needs and disabilities, from the day the club first opened its doors and have continued to stand by the group until it closed for the last time last week.
Trustees of the charity made the shock announcement after they found the demand has increased so much over the last year that it is no longer possible for committee members to be to carry out their work on a voluntary basis.
Trustee Karen Botterell, who was a founding members alongside Sue McGarry, said last year alone they needed to raise £18,000 to pay for self-employed contractors to look after the children but they only raised £12,000.
However, they had money left over from the previous year to cover the shortfall but they are not in that position now.
The money received through grants could not be used to cover the cost of the staff. The charity also was left with six committee members when they needed 10 as people were volunteering their own time alongside full-time jobs.
Mr Griffiths said: “I think this is a hugely sad and disappointing piece of news. The ladies who founded Rakemark had a passion and desire to support those children in our community and they have done a brilliant job over the last couple of years to provide some much needed support.
“It would appear to me that Rakemark has become a victim of their own success. By growing to meet demand from across the county it has meant that the job of running the charity has become too big for the volunteers to do on their own.
“I think lots of parents and children will really miss the facility and I still hope that they might find a way to keep it going, even in a smaller way meeting just the needs of Uttoxeter.
“I would like to pay tribute to all of those who volunteered as they made a massive difference to the lives of many families.”
Councillor Morrison has given money from the council to the charity on a regular basis over the last four years.
He told the Post and Times: “It is tremendously sad news. I went there when they first set it up and they were tremendously strong and forthright ladies to set up the charity with the help of Picknalls.
“Everyone was so determined that it was going to succeed. They were an inspiration and I am sad it has come to this.
“They moved from Picknalls First School to Rocester Children’s Centre to accommodate more children and it was a very successful venture.
“It is a pity they could not keep going.
“I would like to pass on my compliments for all of the extremely hard work put in by the mums and their husbands as they really worked hard on behalf of those children.”
Mrs Botterell said the loss of another committee member, who was a child protection officer, made the other members face further difficulties as they needed more volunteers to come forward but they needed to have specialist skills.
The fact they could not have money to pay for staff meant the committee members were volunteering a lot of their own time, many alongside full time jobs.
However, they still said the decision was a very emotional one for everyone involved.
Mrs Botterell added: “We had a lot of families needing our service as the only other ones in Staffordshire are stay and play which means they couldn’t drop children off and go to work.
“It is very, very sad news and we are heartbroken.
“We feel desperately sorry for the families and like we are letting them down but we could not keep doing it.”