Cornwall community champions poverty scheme funding fears

A project tackling poverty in Cornwall may have to find alternative funding if government money is withdrawn.

"Community champions" - people who have experienced life on benefits - help others in a similar position.

The pilot scheme, run by Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C), is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) through Job Centre Plus.

The DWP said it was evaluating the impact of the project before deciding if funding will continue after March.

'I've been there'

Cornwall is the first area in the country to pilot the project and the 12-month funding was provided through the government's flexible support fund.

CN4C said it has been a huge success and has had already helped about 80 people since it began in April.

Champions are trained to negotiate and explain the current benefits systems. They can suggest benefits that could be available and also help with applications.

Champion Kelly Furze, said some people were unwilling to ask for help because they were embarrassed.

"I've been there... and that's the good thing with community champions, because all of us know what it's like," she said.

Jo Poland, CN4C training co-ordinator, said the project was making a real difference and although the funding for the pilot was for a year, she hoped it would continue or other other funding could be found.

The DWP said no decision had yet been made.

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