Credit crunch hitting charity coffers

Charities across the region hit hard by rising food and fuel costs have issued a cry for help as they prepare for a lean Christmas.Five key charities, including Sheringham-based Break and Norfolk's cancer charity, say the cost of providing their life-changing and life-saving services has risen dramatically over the past year.

Charities hit hard by rising food and fuel costs have issued a cry for help as they prepare for a lean Christmas.

Sheringham-based Break, which provides services for vulnerable people and their families, is suffering soaring household bills. Spokesman Liz Richards said food costs had increased by a fifth since last year, travel costs by a quarter and lighting and heating bills by 29pc.

She added: "It's affected Break in the same way it's affected each one of us. All the services we provide - trips out in the minibus for the holiday people, food shopping in the children's homes and respite centres - are increasing in cost; things you couldn't possibly budget for."

And the Royal British Legion's county manager, Kate Williams, said it was being doubly hit as costs at care homes such Cromer's Halsey House spiralled and more and more veterans sought help to pay for fuel.

Mrs Williams said the legion hoped the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan would remind people to support this year's Poppy Appeal. Meanwhile, Break has begun its Christmas appeal to top up the charity's general funds.

Mrs Richards said: "We are not going out there saying: 'Give us your tenner.' We're saying: 'If you're having a Christmas lunch, why not put in an extra pound?'"

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