DRASTIC funding cuts by West Sussex County Council could bring an East Preston-based charity to its knees, staff warned this week.
ICIS, in Worthing Road, will lose its £150,000-a-year support contract with the county council from the end of April.
Workers at the charity, which employs nine full and part-time staff and has six volunteers, this week attacked the council for cutting all of its support – almost 80 per cent of the information service’s total funding – claiming it was “short-sighted” and “shocking”.
Gemma Orpwood, project manager, said: “Things are going to be very difficult. It was a big blow for us because the council has been supporting us for 17 years in a major way.
“For it to stop doing that is a major decision for them, one which could bring ICIS to its knees. We can’t really understand the decision. It’s short-sighted thinking at its worst.”
ICIS has been running a well-being information service for people in the county for almost two decades. The charity helps families and individuals cope with difficult situations. It also helps disabled youngsters seeking grants for college and university courses.
The council said it was looking to launch its own well-being information service and had urged potential contractors, including ICIS, to make a bid for the contract.
A spokesman for the council said the charity did place a bid, but that its attempt was unsuccessful.
He added: “Following the award of the contract, the decision was taken by West Sussex County Council not to extend the ICIS contract beyond 2012. “A letter advising this was sent to ICIS confirming a formal six-month notice period effective from October 31, 2011, and thereby concluding their contract on the April 30, 2012.”
The council, he said, had offered to support ICIS with help from officers to help the charity cope with the change after the contract ceased.
ICIS estimates it has enough funds in reserve to last until August. However, Gemma is desperate to rally the public to back the charity.
She said: “Anything people can do, to help this vital service keep afloat, would be such a massive boost for us.”
To support ICIS, call 01903 859929 or visit www.icisinfo4life.org.uk