A CHARITY tackling child poverty in Glasgow could be forced to shut down before Christmas after missing out on vital council funding.

Protesters gathered outside the city chambers on Monday to call for Birth, Baby & Beyond to be saved.

More than 2000 people have signed a petition urging Glasgow City Council to reconsider.

The Communities Fund was set up to replace the old Integrated Grant Fund, with the aim of widening access to the council’s discretionary grants scheme.

READ MORE: Glasgow's Communities Fund criticised by community reps as final decisions made

But it was oversubscribed, and hundreds of charities and community groups had their applications turned down.

A council spokeswoman said demand for support had been “exceptional”. There were 261 organisations awarded funding, with 226 refused.

Natasha Earle, founder and CEO of Birth, Baby & Beyond, said the charity does not currently have the funds to survive beyond Christmas.

It had never received council funded before, but Natasha had been approached by the council and asked to apply, she said.

“This fund was what we were hoping for, for the next three years.”

Glasgow Times: All the protesters outside the city chambers. Photos by Seona MisumiAll the protesters outside the city chambers. Photos by Seona Misumi

The charity is also dealing with the impact of Covid-19, which is preventing it from holding fundraising events.

Natasha said: “Our service is going to be needed more than ever. If we are not funded, we’re not going to be accessible.

“It’s the worst possible time to not be getting funded.”

Birth, Baby & Beyond started offering food packs in response to the pandemic, setting up an online portal so people could come directly to the charity, instead of through referrals.

Glasgow Times: UWS Midwifery Student. Photos by Seona Misumi.UWS Midwifery Student. Photos by Seona Misumi.

Families are coming every week for food packs and nappies, Natasha said.

“Our referrals have increased massively,” she added. “These aren’t luxuries.

“We have heard every possible situation you can imagine. Families are finding themselves with nothing to eat.

“If the council did the work, we wouldn’t have to do it.”

The charity has a shop on Dumbarton Road, which sells second-hand baby equipment to raise funds.

Glasgow Times: Rosie and Katie from FEED UK. Photos by Seona Misumi.Rosie and Katie from FEED UK. Photos by Seona Misumi.

“It has become a place for everything,” Natasha said, from making up baby packs to an information centre and drop-off point.

But the five-year lease ends in June and negotiations would normally begin in advance. “We can’t do that now, there’s no guarantee of funds.”

Natasha is considering crowdfunding as a possible way of keeping her charity’s work going.

She said: “It doesn’t morally feel right, but it might be the only option.”

Birth, Baby & Beyond works with partner organisations across the city, taking referrals from social work services, community groups and GPs.

Glasgow Times: Natasha, Birth, Baby & Beyond Founder. Photos by Seona Misumi.Natasha, Birth, Baby & Beyond Founder. Photos by Seona Misumi.

Since 2012, it has supported over 45,000 families in need with free essential baby and child items.

It has provided free food products to over 4000 babies or children since the pandemic began.

The petition states: “We are beyond devastated at the prospect of having to close our charity at a time when children need and rely on our service more than ever.”

The council spokeswoman said: “Demand for grant support has been exceptional – with applications received for well over double the total value of the fund.

“Unfortunately, this was always going to mean disappointment for some organisations with applications that scored less highly during assessment.”