A FINANCIAL crisis has hit a Cirencester charity that has helped thousands of families, elderly and unemployed people in the town.

The Churn Project is set to lose a third of its funding next year- at a time when the need is greater than ever before.

Now, after a decade of reaching out to others, the charity is asking for people in the Cotswolds to give a helping hand and become a ‘Churn Friend’ to keep the valuable resource going.

The Churn Project has never struggled before to obtain the £110,000 of funding it needs each year to run a vast number of support services in the town.

But Churn Project manager Fran Embleton-Smith said statutory grants from the government are drying up and from next financial year the charity will see funding figures plunge by £40,000.

"We are not on the verge of closing but it could mean our services or staff have to be reduced," Fran said.

"People are struggling big time at the moment, even to buy food from week to week."

Fran said that most people in Cirencester knew someone who had accessed the charity’s services and she hoped that people would sign up to the new ‘Churn Friends’ scheme to help secure its future by donating money or time.

The charity, which runs with just three full-time staff but hundreds of volunteers, offers life-changing support to needy families, elderly people and the unemployed by offering friendly advice, someone to talk to and a host of fun activities.

The popular ‘Families Matter’ service brings together isolated mums and dads and provides low-income families with fun days out to improve the quality of life for children of all ages.

Cirencester mum-of-one, Emily Riley, said Families Matter had been a lifeline to her.

"To be able to go somewhere for an afternoon and talk to other single parents has just been amazing for me. We do a lot of fundraising to take the kids on holiday as a group too, which is something I would never have been able to afford on my own," she said.

‘Churn Friends’ can help in many ways, including making regular or one-off donations, becoming a volunteer or organising fundraising events.

Find out more at churnproject.org.uk or at 01285 644779.


• Provided around 8,000 cups of tea each year for people visiting the Dyer Street and Sheep Street offices.

• Supported around 500 unemployed people during the last five years. Of which, 300 have gone on to further training, 31 have become volunteers and 66 are now in work

• Made more than 5,000 visits to people over 75 who live alone

• Supported families with children ranging from 0 to 18

• Provided free or very cheap good quality entertainment for more than 3,000 people each year at the Family Fun Day.