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Welsh Government urged to support ‘invaluable’ children’s charity Sparkle

CONCERNS have been raised in the Senedd about the future of an “invaluable” charity that supports hundreds of children and young people across Gwent.

Natasha Asghar warned that Sparkle, which supports more than 900 children with complex needs, needs to raise at least £750,000 a year.

The Conservative MS, who represents South Wales East, urged the Welsh Government to explore funding to help the charity continue to provide a lifeline to so many families.

Jane Hutt said the Welsh Government provides more than £8m to the third sector, including £734,000 for the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO).

Wales’ social justice minister described Sparkle as an all-important voluntary organisation supporting so many children across Gwent.

Warning that her budget is very much constrained, Ms Hutt encouraged Sparkle to contact GAVO about the latest funding streams.

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Ms Hutt highlighted a fund, administered by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, which offers loans of up to £250,000 to charities seeking to take ownership of community assets.

She said: “There are a variety of options that Sparkle could take to access further support.”

Caerphilly MS Hefin David said he has worked with Sparkle for some time to try to support the charity through financial barriers.

Dr David said: “The group is currently facing a very difficult financial situation, which has meant a cut to some of the clubs it provides.

“Many will know that my own daughter is autistic.

“So, I understand the impact this will have on not only the families who rely on the services Sparkle provides, but also on Sparkle itself which wishes to continue with these services.”

The Labour MS added that he is currently facilitating discussions between Sparkle and Caerphilly County Borough Council about how the local authority may be able to help.

John Griffiths, a fellow Labour backbencher, raised a recent visit to the Eton Road community centre in Maindee in his Newport East constituency.

He said Community House offers activities including a youth project which involves more than 100 children and takes place five times a week.

Mr Griffiths told the chamber: “It’s mainly children from the black and minority ethnic communities who attend, most of whom are not in full-time education.

“Among the facilities for them, there is a music studio that many of them have used to learn to play instruments and mix their own music.

“It’s just one example of so much good work going on.”

During social justice questions on March 6, Mr Griffiths asked about support for community organisations in terms of maintenance of old buildings.

Ms Hutt, who visited last year, praised the multicultural, multi-faith community centre.

She said: “This is all about intervention, prevention and empowering and inspiring our young people, particularly those who are more disadvantaged.

“And the fact that the community there is supporting black, Asian and minority-ethnic young people is such a strong indication of support in your constituency for that project.”

The social justice minister urged the centre to contact GAVO and access the Welsh Government’s community facilities programme, which offers grants of up to £300,000.

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