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Wiltshire charity which provided advice for families forced to shut
A Wiltshire charity based at Steeple Ashton has been forced to close after providing 20 years of advice and support to parents and carers across the county.
Ask Wiltshire provided a dedicated family information service and a parent partnership service for those caring for children with special educational needs.
But in 2010 it received a 60 per cent cut in funding from Wiltshire Council and recently the county council decided to run the information service in house.
Chief executive Linda Cantillon-Guyatt said it had been a painful decision to close, but the loss of the family information contract made the charity unviable.
She said: “After several years of reduced funding and now with the loss of the family information service contract we have no alternative.
“I have been involved with the organisation for 20 years and together with a dedicated team I was determined to fight to the very end, but there comes a time when it is no longer viable to struggle on.
“The phone lines are now silent and where once there were skilled staff answering calls and providing help, there are now just empty desks.
“I think the information service will be missed. Some families won’t want to call Wiltshire Council, people do have a problem with ringing statutory services.
"We had a proven track record and we were trusted by families.”
The charity stopped providing services on March 31 and will formally close on June 30. Its parent partnership service will be taken over by Action for Children.
It had 14 members of staff, and some of these have gone to work for Wiltshire Council and Action for Children, while others have found work elsewhere.
Chairman Liz Garrett said: “It is sad that an organisation which has provided vital services to help parents and carers has become a casualty of changes to the way that voluntary organisations are funded and contracts awarded.
“The Trustees of Ask hope parents and carers will continue to get support through the arrangements that are now in place for that.
“We believe the work of Ask over the past two decades will be recognised as a valuable service which is a great loss to the county.”
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