IN the past three months, a family help service and women's refuge has been awarded nearly £142,000 in successful grants, but bosses worry there will be no money left for 2021 as funds have been brought forward to help charities deal with the fall out of coronavirus.

Family Help Darlington CIO, home to Darlington's women’s refuge, is expecting another £41,000 in August, but says many of these grants are emergency funding to support with loss of income and extra costs associated with Covid-19, though some have enabled the charity to take on extra staff. and expand its services.

A spokesperson for Family Help said: "Every year we have a shortfall of around £45,000 to find and we must stress that although we have been incredibly successful with grants this year, it just about covers our losses and we have real concerns for all charitable organisations in the coming year due to funding being brought forward.

"We do not know whether there will be enough funding out there in 2021 for all charities to survive and therefore the ongoing support of the local community is going to be essential to the survival of charities in the coming years.

"Members of the community have been incredible, some have done physical activities, photography sessions, blind cards etc in order to raise funds for Family Help - we must pay huge thanks to the wider community for their support."

The award winning charity introduced PPE and social distancing on site, including taking on a container for staff to work in outside of the main building and an isolation unit for families to quarantine before moving in.

The building, which was designed to "flow", is currently at full capacity but empty rooms, some of which needed maintenance work done, during lockdown saw a loss of around £12,000 in income.

Carole Clarkson, chief executive of the charity, said the building was already too small when it was first built, meaning coronavirus has raised questions about its long-term sustainability as the world enters a 'new normal' and Family Help's team and services expand.

While these concerns are made worse by uncertainty around funds, Ms Clarkson's goal is to ensure Family Help is "still here in another 45 years".

The boss's concern that grants will run dry is due to next year's funding being brought forward and because the large businesses that provide funds are also facing uncertainty so may be unable to donate money.

Thousands have been supported by the charity since its inception in 1976 and Family Help is now asking people to continue to support them through 2021.

One way to do this is via its participation in The Big Give's Christmas Challenge, a match funding campaign where donations to Family Help are doubled.

Supporters of Family Help can donate when the campaign is live during the festive season, but throughout summer it is calling on key donors and trustees to put funds into a collective pot which will then be used to double the supporter donations.

The Darlington charity is currently running a raffle to encourage donations, with the top prize of a mini break in Berwick-upon-Tweed, England's northernmost town.

Visit Family Help on social media for the raffle, or to donate.