Charities hunt for new money as public sector funds dry up
A Barnardo's scheme for disabled children helped Julie Statton and Connor build a better life, but it's now become a victim of funding cuts.
Two years ago Julie Statton was in despair.
She was struggling to cope with her son Connor's Asperger Syndrome - a form of autism.
But then she was offered some support from Barnardo's.
She and her husband were put on a training course, and offered advice on ways of dealing with Connor's behaviour.
The result was life-changing. Before getting the help, she says she felt like she was in a tunnel with no end.
But now the family is thriving, and eight-year-old Connor's confidence has grown enormously.
She was devastated then to find that the scheme was coming to an end.
The council says it just can't afford to fund a non-statutory service at a time when it needs to cut £30m from its budget.
And this is not a good week if you are running a charity, or one of the people benefiting from its services.
The end of March is the end of the financial year, and the end of an era for many as the grants they have relied on for years dry up.
Councils have now implemented their cuts and for many that meant cutting the aid they give to charities.
The Government says councils should look to cut back office costs before hitting charities, but councils say the scale of the cuts leaves with them no choice.
Hartlepool's playbus is off the road because of a lack of funding.
Hartlepool Families First is another victim of this new age of austerity.
For 20 years, its playbus has been serving communities in and around Hartlepool.
It provided a safe place to play in areas which were often isolated and deprived.
But now it's off the road as the charity as all its funding sources have dried up.
It's been trying for six months to find alternatives but for now it has no choice but to park the bus while it continues the search for new money.
And less than half a mile away, another Hartlepool charity is also getting used to a large reduction in funding.
The Belle Vue Community Sports and Youth Centre has lost almost half of its million pound budget.
Yet there's more optimism there.
It's also received £100,000 from the Government's Transition Fund.
That money is there to help charities who have lost public funding, but recipients also have to show how they will wean themselves away from their dependence on councils and other public bodies.
The charity also provides support for families and training in the community, and it's now bidding for contracts from the NHS and the private sector to make up for the shortfall.
But that is not a model that all charities will be able to follow.
And although the region saw one big act of private philanthropy this week - the £15m donated to save the Zurbaran pictures - will there really be a string of rich people willing to keep local charities running?
If not some fear there may be other consequences.
Julie Statton believes she would have struggled to cope without the help she had from Barnardo's.
She fears families with disabled children will reach crisis point without the support she benefited from. And that could see more money being spent on tackling the consequences of those crises such as marital breakdown and ill health.
She says that could cost the public purse far more than the money being saved by cutting grants.
The Government and councils will have to hope she's wrong.