A CHARITY which offers support to people involved in County Court cases in Bournemouth is closing next month due to a lack of funding.

Support Through Court has helped people 6,000 times since it set up its branch in the Bournemouth Family and County Court in October 2016.

But the charity, which has 20 branches across England and Wales, said it can no longer afford to operate there.

Now its current manager has appealed for funding to establish a locally-run team to take its place.

Eileen Pereira, CEO of Support Through Court, said: “Last year we faced some stark choices as a charity in order to financially safeguard our future and sadly the decision was taken to close the doors of our Bournemouth branch. This means there will be no free court support in the area, with the closest Support Through Court offices being in Bristol, Exeter or London, despite the commitment of many talented local volunteers.”

Current Bournemouth manager Amy Metters hopes local businesses and individuals will consider supporting her appeal.

She said: "Anyone can end up in the county court. A simple confusion over a parking ticket, or a relationship breakdown, could force people to court without warning. It can be incredibly scary and daunting for people and we are really concerned about how people will manage with the process with no support or guidance.

"Sustainable funding is the long term goal, but if we are able to raise funds for a year, this would give more time to establish long term funding options. Without this, the future of the service looks bleak."

The Designated Family Judge for Dorset, His Honour Judge Martin Dancey, added: “It is very worrying that Bournemouth is to lose this vital service. Many will know somebody who is going through a court process, whether a relative, friend or employee.

"It can be a stressful and anxious time. The support provided by Support Through Court in alleviating that stress and anxiety has been absolutely invaluable. I very much hope that Amy Metters and her team of dedicated volunteers are able to find a way of continuing their excellent work in Bournemouth.”

Anyone who wants to help can contact Amy at bournemouth@supportthroughcourt.org.