A charity dedicated to helping lonely, isolated and elderly people across Huddersfield may have to shut for good this Christmas.

Aspire Creating Communities began in 2015 at St John’s Church in Birkby with groups aged over 55 meeting to foster a sense of community and belonging while doing fun activities. It’s expanded ever since to set up more weekly groups in Crosland Moor, Newsome, Dalton, Almondbury and Ashbrow.

But Aspire has run out of funding and unless it gets £20,000 quickly will have to close at the end of December.

Aspire is run by a team of five staff helped by 30 volunteers with more than 200 people aged over 55 now attending its meetings in their own areas. Many people rely on the charity as their only hope of getting out once a week.

Aspire Creating Communities chief executive and founder Susanna Shotter said: “We make a huge difference to the lives of people who come to our seven community groups every week and it’s devastating to have to consider closure as we just can’t keep going if we’re limping through the cashflow a month at a time.

“Closing the charity will have a devastating impact on the lives of so many people across Huddersfield who feel the groups they are part of are family to them. Through our weekly programme of creative activities our team builds relationships, connects with people in real life and helps people to know they belong.

“With your support we can continue to help our members to look after themselves physically and mentally and give them the confidence they need to leave the house and feel more independent.”

The charity says funds such as the National Lottery Community Fund are swamped with applications due to the cost of living crisis and so has made an urgent appeal for people to help.

Susanna added: “The charity sector is in crisis and Aspire Creating Communities is under threat of imminent closure. The charity is appealing to local businesses, residents and schools to donate to Aspire Creating Communities to save it from closure and continue to make a difference and enrich the lives of local older people.

“All donations will support the charity to tackle loneliness and depression across Kirklees through its weekly sessions. Challenge yourself to raise much needed funds and help to make a difference to local lives.”

People are urged to download the Aspire Creating Communities supporter toolkit for ideas to start fundraising https://www.aspirecreatingcommunities.org.uk/support-aspire]

One of hundreds of people to benefit from Aspire is 87-year-old Mandeep who lives in Deighton and became very isolated after both her husband and son passed away within months of one another.

She has attended the Ashbrow group every week for the last 13 months and said: “My whole week revolves around Tuesday mornings – I wouldn’t give up going to Aspire because I have real friends there now. My friends at Aspire give me hope and a feeling of fun again.”

Aspire also needs more volunteers.

Wendy Garforth began volunteering with Aspire in September 2020 as a telephone support volunteer, has been a volunteer with Aspire Dalton and Almondbury since September 2021 and became a trustee in 2022.

She said: “I have always been a people person in my various roles – homecare assistant, bartender, manager of a retirement complex and when I retired I began looking for volunteering opportunities to keep working with people. This became especially important when my husband passed away in August 2020.

“The Aspire team is great, friendly and approachable. Everyone enjoys themselves, the Aspire members, volunteers and staff.”

To make a donation to Aspire Creating Communities or fundraise for the charity simply visit the Aspire Creating Communities JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/aspirecreatingcommunities

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.