TWO Meon Valley charities are celebrating a big financial boost from Bishop’s Waltham Co-op store.

Home Start Meon Valley and Bishop’s Waltham Minibus Group, are sharing £12,000 from The Southern Co-operative.

The money has come via its Community Support Card Scheme which has already raised funds in Alresford and Stockbridge.

Co-op retail business manager Dean Pritchard said: “Customer support has raised a whopping £8,400 for Bishop’s Waltham Minibus Group and £3,600 for Home Start Meon Valley over the past year.”

The charities were delighted by the news. Sandra Kara, secretary of the minibus group, which is run by volunteers, said: “The money will go a long way to our fundraising for a new minibus, which last time cost £45,000, so we’re really grateful for this donation.

“The bus is on the road virtually every day of the week, and is used regularly by a dozen different groups of all ages, so we also need to cover the expense of running it and maintenance.”

Home-Start is a charity which supports families with young children who are experiencing problems such as disability or illness of parent or child, unemployment with all the stress that brings, coping with twins or triplets, or rural isolation.

Jane Dawson, chairman of trustees, said: “The financial support provided by The Southern Co-operative will make a real difference to the lives of families in the area who for one reason or another are finding life a struggle.

“Although Home-Start Meon Valley has some statutory funding, most of the money necessary to run the scheme has to be raised through donations or from charitable trusts. That’s why this financial support from The Southern Co-operative is very welcome; without it we could not continue to help the families who come to us, often at the end of their tether.”