Merrymount seeking city help for 'serious funding shortfall'

Merrymount, a London organization that provides support to children and parents in times of family crisis, says it is facing a "serious funding shortfall."

Executive director Paul Howarth says, "If we close beds, there's no other option in London for these children. Their families are experiencing crisis or emergency and often have no other family support."

The group says it will be approaching the city on Jan. 17 to request bridge funding to prevent significant cuts to programs.

Merrymount is seeking $368,704 from the City of London in 2019 as short-term bridge funding, with plans to ask for an additional $238,704 in 2020.

The funding would allow them time to then find alternative revenue sources. They have already had to dip into foundational money, which threatens overall sustainability.

Four of Merrymount's 18 residential crisis and respite beds receive provincial funding, while the remaining depend on private contributions, which have reportedly failed to keep up with demand.

The Family Resource Program also offers help - including to recently arrived Yazidi families - who face unique challenges.

Howarth says, "There are approximately 400 Yazidis in London, a number of them have children who were abducted by ISIS and trained to be child soldiers. And they have come into our community without any support system and Merrymount has stepped into the help settle these children and integrate them into our society."

Merrymount's Crisis Residential and Respite Program is at capacity every night and the 144-year-old group serves 8,000 families and 4,000 children every year.