Cash-hit Trowbridge charity issues appeal to stave off closure

Vine for PAT founder director Pat Penny and chairman Lyndon George

Vine for PAT founder director Pat Penny and chairman Lyndon George

First published in News
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Cash-strapped charity Vine for Pat is appealing for urgent donations to help save it from closure.

The charity was set up in 1989 by Pat and Colin Penny and now offers temporary accommodation to vulnerable teenage girls from across Wiltshire at its hostel in Fore Street, Trowbridge.

The charity isn’t able to home anyone currently as its electricity has been cut off because it can’t afford to pay the bill and the rent for its premises is also in arrears.

Mrs Penny is now praying for a saviour to help raise the £50,000 it needs to pay its bills and keep it running for the remainder of the year.

She said: “If we’ve got to wind up, then we’ve got to wind up but I’m not planning on stopping while there’s a strand of hope left.”

Mrs Penny, who was nominated for a Pride of Britain award in 2011 for her charity work, said: “Unfortunately, there’s not a thing we can do without power and we are struggling from a complete lack of funding. We have always relied on public donations and never had a grant of any kind from the Government.”

Vine for Pat, which has around 50 volunteers, accommodates up to eight women, and when their electricity was cut off Mrs Penny welcomed the charity’s two remaining residents into her home while they found alternative lodgings.

Last year, Mr Penny died aged 79, with Mrs Penny taking a break from the charity.

She said: “When my husband was ill I didn’t have such a close eye on things.”

Each year, the charity spends around £80,000 to accommodate its residents, providing education and general support, with money coming from public donations but fundraisers in aid of Vine for Pat have reduced in recent years.

The community have voiced support for the Trowbridge charity and hope it stays open.

Rev Dr Rob Thomas, St James’ Church rector, said: “This is good work and Pat is a remarkable woman who approaches everything with great optimism. It would be a huge shame if it had to close, so let us hope that there’s a good outcome to this.”

The Amber Foundation, which offers shelter for homeless young people at its base in Bythesea Road, has regularly worked with Vine for Pat.

Manager Barbara Bewley said: “We have seen just how valuable a service they provide to the young girls who stay with them and to the local community. It is a service Trowbridge cannot afford to lose.”

Mrs Penny said that their landlord has been very understanding, but believes that other charity groups may be interested in taking over the premises.

Anyone who can donate or fundraise for the charity can call 01225 710466 or email vineforpat@talktalk.net.

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