TOWN Hall chiefs have issued the first three cheques to local voluntary groups after pledging a £1.6m cash boost to bolster the sector.
Halton and St Helens Voluntary and Community Action, St Helens Citizen’s Advice Bureau and The Hope Centre were the first to benefit, picking up a combined total of more than £141,000.
Each of the recipient organisations has been carefully selected - so that only groups deemed most able to support frontline services were rewarded.
Deputy council leader Barrie Grunewald said: “We recognise that, at a time when more and more people are in arrears with consumer credit and mortgage payment or are facing cuts to benefits, services like the CAB are a vital lifeline to many families. And the Hope Centre is providing a desperately needed service for people who are homeless or those addicts with no support.
“The council has had to make some very tough decisions on grants, these are never easy decisions. We have had to look very closely as to where funding should be directed.”
The council is also urging local voluntary organisations to bid for funding under the government’s Big Society agenda in which there are proposals to make more money available.