A CHARITY that provides a vital lifeline to older people with money worries has made an urgent plea for funding to continue its services.

For the past five years, Age UK Cheshire’s Money Matters project has helped almost 1,000 older people in financial trouble.

But funding for the project, which costs around £43,000 a year to run, comes to an end this month and staff at the Hartford-based charity are concerned about what will happen to those who need support.

The project, which was funded by Big Lottery, has helped vulnerable people with issues ranging from managing debt and claiming benefits, to arranging bill payment or decreasing household costs.

Volunteers are paired with older people, liaising on their behalf with debt recovery agencies, banks, companies or housing associations, and offering support with benefit applications and setting up financial systems for the individuals.

Lucy Welsh, head of charity services at Age UK Cheshire, said: “There are many reasons that older people can be financially vulnerable, whether it’s the sudden loss of a partner who had control over the household finances, financial abuse, or under claiming benefit entitlements.

“We are immensely proud of the work that the small paid staff team and 40 volunteers have delivered over the years. The difference this service has made to the lives of vulnerable older people in Cheshire is immeasurable.”

One client said: “On top of my alzheimer’s diagnosis and the stress I was under with the debts, I was also worrying that they would take away my bed and cooker if I missed a payment. This was also making me ill. I have a very manageable future now for myself and my children, thanks to all that the Money Matters project did for me.”

Another said: “I had around £6,000 of debt. I had no idea how to sort this issue out. If it hadn’t been for the mentor, the bills would have just got bigger. I don’t think I would be in my own home now either. I can now just get a regular amount of money out of my cash account and the bills get paid so I don’t have to bother with them at all – thanks to the budget plan set in place with my Age UK Cheshire Mentor.”

The charity is now appealing for help to ensure the project can continue.

Lucy said: “Although we have now had to close our doors to any new referrals, we are still very active in seeking the £43,000 per year funding required to keep the service going and would more than welcome any new funding leads and opportunities available.”

To find out more, or to get in touch, contact Lucy at lucy.welsh@ageukcheshire.org.uk or 01606 305022.