A CHARITY which supports struggling families across Ryedale has been given a major financial boost which will enable it to both continue and expand its work.

Home-Start Ryedale, which is based in Norton, has been awarded a £283,170 grant from The BIG Lottery Reaching Communities Fund.

Set up in 2007, the charity recruits and trains parent volunteers to support families who are finding it hard to cope for any reason.

During the past year it has supported 42 families, with a total of 86 children, across Ryedale - double the demand of the previous 12 months.

Jo Oliver, coordinator at Home-Start Ryedale, said the five- year Lottery grant would be used to help fund their running costs and also to extend the service into southern Ryedale.

“We feel extremely privileged that the BIG Lottery can see the benefits our project will bring to children and families throughout the area," she added.

"In a time when many charities are facing uncertain financial futures, to receive funds to continue our service for another five years is absolutely amazing news – we can’t believe how well our efforts have paid off. This funding will enable us to recruit some new members of staff to join our small team – something we haven’t been able to do until now.”

Jo said a smaller grant awarded by The BIG Lottery in 2011 had ended last year meaning the charity had faced an uncertain future,

"If we hadn't got this money we could perhaps have limped on for another year before folding at a time when the demand for our services is dramatically increasing," she added.

"We are seeing an increasing amount of single parents and couples who for various reasons are finding life very difficult."

One mum, a single parent of three from Pickering, already supported by the charity, said: “My Home-Start Ryedale volunteer has been a Godsend to me, and the support I get from her is invaluable. I don't think I could have got through these very difficult past few months without her support. I am so pleased that Jo and the team have been awarded this money as they make such a difference to peoples’ lives.

Home-Start Ryedale works with a number of other local agencies including the Ryedale Food Bank, Children's Centre and health visitors.

Jo added: “We are entering an exciting new chapter in our history and we are looking for new people to join our Trustee Board to assist with the Governance of the charity as we grow.

"We also need to keep recruiting new home-visiting volunteers to meet the demand for our service and we would be delighted to see volunteers particularly from the Wolds area.”

Jo said that despite the grant, the charity still needed to continue with fundraising.

“While we continue our family support work thanks to this grant, it is crucial that we also look at ways to complement this funding. We are hoping to develop a team of Friends of Home-Start Ryedale who will actively assist the Trustees with fundraising and raising the profile of our charity."

She added: "We are all absolutely over the moon that our work has been recognised. Our volunteers are very special and dedicated to what they do and it is fantastic that we will not be able to continue and expand our support for local families in Ryedale."

* Home-Start Ryedale is holding an open day on Thursday, June 12, 12.30 - 2.30pm at 43 Parliament Street, Norton, for anyone interested in becoming involved with the charity.

For more information call Jo Oliver on 01653 693551, email hsryedale@googlemail.com or visit www.home-start.org.uk