Pandas Foundation charity warns of funding shortfall

A charity that supports women suffering from pre and post-natal depression has said its helpline will have to close, unless more funding is found.

The Pandas Foundation, based in Shropshire, said it was now working with about 1,000 families and was struggling to meet demand.

Founder Rachael Dobson said it had seen a three-fold increase in demand in the last year.

She said the helpline could close within a month.

"To carry on through December to the end of January we need to raise about £2,000," Ms Dobson said.

"Unfortunately our amount of funds isn't really matching our increasing demands."

She said demand had increased as the charity had built up its reputation and it expected the number of calls to go up in the next few weeks.

"We certainly saw last year that the amount of calls we were receiving went up [over the Christmas period].

"Everyone around you is so happy and it's meant to be a jolly time, it's Christmas, and when you're sat in a room with people happy around you."

The helpline, which was set up in December 2011, is manned by a team of 40 volunteers across the country, many of whom have also experienced pre or post-natal depression.

Ms Dobson said the funding was needed to train additional volunteers as well as operate the service, which cost about £20 per hour to run.

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