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Voice fights to save Stephen Lawrence charity

KILLED: Stephen Lawrence

THE VOICE has thrown its weight behind a bid to save the Stephen Lawrence Centre from closure.

The Centre, launched by Doreen Lawrence in 2008 in memory of her son who was murdered by racist thugs in April 1993, risks being shut down unless it can raise thousands of pounds to pay for running costs.

Symon Sentain, chair of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust which runs the Centre said: “We need financial support to meet our core costs and stabilise our cash flow position whilst we develop new business opportunities. There is a risk of closure for the Trust if we do not achieve this objective.”

He added: “We will need financial support of £30,000 per month in order to support our core costs, sustain our activities and make the transition to a social enterprise.”


CASH-STRAPPED: Charity centre threatened with the axe

The Centre has had to let go of its managing director Paul Anderson-Walsh to save money.

The Voice this week launched a fund-raising campaign to help it stay open. Editor George Ruddock said: “We urge our readers to get behind the charity and assist by giving generously. As Britain’s leading black newspaper that has followed the Stephen Lawrence story from the start, we were shocked to learn of the difficulties being faced by this important charity and could not sit by and take no action. It is a good cause that has done hugely valuable work with young people in memory of Stephen Lawrence whose legacy must be kept alive.”

LEGACY

The move was welcomed by Doreen Lawrence who asked readers for their help to secure her son’s legacy.

She said “I am so pleased that The Voice is supporting the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust 1818 Campaign to raise urgently needed funds. We hope that Voice readers will support our campaign by giving generously to ensure that Stephen's legacy lives on to support disadvantaged young black and minority ethnic people to achieve their potential and succeed not just in the profession of architecture but also law, finance and creative media.”


LEGACY: Doreen Lawrence (centre) with bursary awardees

The Voice, which in January produced a 12-page Stephen Lawrence special edition after two of his murderers were jailed, has donated free full page advertising space to the charity in order to help with the fund-raising efforts to keep it going.

Last year, the Trust launched the £1million 1818 fundraising scheme, backed by celebrities such as Spurs star Jermain Defoe.

Like other charities, the Trust has been hit by the double whammy of public spending cuts and a slow economy that has resulted in people holding back from giving donations.

The Trust’s cash-saving cuts cost its top executive his job. Sentain said “Paul Anderson-Walsh no longer operates as managing director but is retained on a consultancy basis.”


SUPPORT: Jermain Defoe

Anderson-Walsh told of his upset at having to leave the Centre. He said: “I’m sad really. The truth is it was a great privilege to be able to serve as the managing director but sadly the reality is that the Trust doesn’t have the funding to be able to support two directors. It was more logical for me to support them from a distance.”

Sentain added that the Trust was considering partnership arrangements with other organisations to share the costs of running the building and would take its case to national and local government.

The Trades Union Congress has launched an appeal to raise £100,000 for the Trust, whose Centre has helped hundreds of young people by offering training courses and 100 bursaries for architecture students. It also offers a bursary for two journalism students.

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