Spare funds must be used

editorial image

Community organisations in North East Derbyshire are missing out on hundreds of hours of free professional advice worth thousands of pounds

According to Business in the Community (BITC) the money is going to waste due to lack of applications for help from its ProHelp service.

Ann Hilton, regional ProHelp manager, said ProHelp partnered professionals with organisations to provide strategic, and specialist support.

She added: “That could be legal, architectural or marketing advice among other types. This help is totally free and can make a massive difference to an organisation.

“For some reason we are not getting the level of applications from North East Derbyshire as we would expect.

“We have funding in place to support the programme but we need more social enterprises and community organisations to come forward with requests for help, because if they do not the service may no longer be available in future.”

ProHelp is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and has more than 30 professional local firms willing to work with charities, community groups and social enterprises in North East Derbyshire.

Partners include architects, solicitors, accountants, health and safety inspectors and PR and marketing consultants.

Over the years the service has helped transform small organisations into huge success stories. One of which is Shirebrook’s Rhubarb Farm - a social enterprise that uses horticulture to provide training and therapeutic benefits to people within their local community.

ProHelp supported Rhubarb Farm throughout its start-up process by supplying it with much needed help from AMA Planning, Savills Surveyors and legal firm Browne Jacobson.

There are 1030 hours of free professional help available to organisations in Derbyshire but less than half of this time is being utilised.

The ProHelp programme currently only has funding secured up until June 2015. If the uptake of the service continues to be as low as it is now then it is likely the funding will be cut or lost.

So it is vital that the people of North East Derbyshire begin to make use of ProHelp in order for it to carry on serving the local society.

Support can be anything from a one off piece of work to long-term mentoring.