Weston charity saved from closure as funding is pledged at the last minute

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 07:12 10 May 2018

Members of the BME Network celebrating the grant from the Quartet Foundation.

Members of the BME Network celebrating the grant from the Quartet Foundation.

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A Weston-super-Mare charity which supports people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds has been offered a lifeline to keep it open for another year.

Connie, Miriam Robertson and Aspasia Papadelli pictured outside North Somerset BME Network�s Orchard Place office.Connie, Miriam Robertson and Aspasia Papadelli pictured outside North Somerset BME Network�s Orchard Place office.

The North Somerset BME Network, in Orchard Place, was threatened with closure due to a lack of funding, and trustees were preparing to wind it down.

It has received a £7,000 grant through the Quartet Community Foundation which will cover one year’s rent and office expenses.

Miriam Robertson, chairman of the BME Network, said: “Our landlord is from a BME community and they have been very understanding of our situation but we have rent to pay.

“When we were opening every day we had 2,000 visits to the office a year, but due to funding over the past year we’ve not been able to open every day so people walk past, see the shutters down and think that’s it.

“We used to be funded through North Somerset Council but we’ve had no council funding for the past three years.

“The trustees were ready to shut down, but then decided to carry on to the last minute.

“We feel relieved and happy. We thought we were closing in May, (and) it’s a lifeline to carry on.

“So now instead of looking to close we’re looking to the future.

“We are very grateful to Quartet for its support and confidence in us over the years.”

The BME Network provides information and support to people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds through its English lessons and referrals to other organisations.

It can help with immigration issues, mental health and housing.

The Quartet Foundation said the network was a good fit for its Comic Relief Core Strength Local Communities Grant because it works in a disadvantaged area and is inclusive.

Aspasia Papadelli, from Greece, managed to get the help she needed from the BME Network when she moved to Weston.

She said: “Coming here has helped me meet people, as I didn’t know anyone before.

“Here they’re helping me in everyday life, giving me advice and tips on how to get on (in England).”

The BME Network has received several grants from the Quartet Foundation over the past three years.

The foundation works across the West of England to support disadvantaged people and build stronger communities.

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