Lifeline Doncaster organisation to close after 26 years

An organisation that has supported thousands of Doncaster people to overcome problems ranging from debt and unemployment to substance misuse and social isolation has closed its doors after 26 years.

Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 12:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 4:29 pm
Doncaster West Development Trust (DWDT)

Doncaster West Development Trust – DWDT – has previously received funding to deliver its services from organisations including the National Lottery, European Social Fund and various charitable trusts but has sadly been unable to secure grants to continue beyond the end of June this year.

Marisa Graziano, who established DWDT at The Terrace in Conisbrough in 1993, stepped down from her paid position as CEO in 2016 and has continued in the role on a voluntary basis since then.

She described the organisation’s closure as a sad day for Doncaster and said countless families and individuals had turned to DWDT for much-needed advice and support.

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Marisa said: “Our services have provided a lifeline for so many people facing difficult situations, many of whom have gone on to overcome barriers and turn their lives round as a result,” she explained. “It’s gratifying to know that our staff and volunteers have made such a positive difference to people’s circumstances and wellbeing but it’s extremely sad that this will no longer be the case.

“It has never been easy to secure money to deliver these vital community services but for 26 years we have managed. However, funding priorities appear to have changed even though the fundamental problems of unemployment and poverty continue to blight many communities. There is now less money available for the third sector and many more groups competing for it,” added Marisa.

During DWDT’s long history it bucked the trend of traditional advice provision by delivering services face-to-face on an outreach basis, taking support directly into communities and meeting clients in their own neighbourhoods. It found innovative solutions to deep-rooted issues, for example, enabling former addicts to return to the classroom and jobs market as well as improving people’s debt problems and budgeting skills through its well-respected Money Matters project.

The success of the organisation’s work overall was formally recognised in 2011 with a regional award for Social Impact from Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber.

More recently, DWDT moved its administrative base to the Mexborough Business Centre and opened a community training café, the Hot Chocolate Lounge in Denaby. The Lottery-funded café created jobs and volunteering roles for local people and served as a popular community hub and meeting place. It recently closed after three successful years but DWDT is keen to see it continue to benefit the local community and is talking to various social enterprises in the hope that it can re-open under new management.

Residents in need of debt advice or other support are now being advised to contact the Doncaster or Mexborough branches of Citizens Advice.