The Beachy Head Chaplaincy team (BHCT), which prevented 364 people committing suicide at the Sussex beauty spot last year, is set to stop operating due to lack of funding.
The BHCT gave redundancy notices to four of its six permanent staff last week, with £50,000 by the end of the month to keep the operation going.
The BHCT has saved more than 2,000 lives since it began operations in 2004, with 364 saved last year. The demand for the service though continues to grow with 865 searches on the cliff top last year compared to 771 for the previous 12 months - when 305 people were saved
The number who actually die as a result of jumping has remained steady over the years with 33 dying last year, compared to 29 and 32 for the preceding two years. If the service were to end then this number would undoubtedly increase.
Mark Pybus, director of the chaplaincy team, lamented the lack of funding on a day when the charity received the Queens Award for voluntary services.
He underlined the urgency of the situation, saying that if the money cannot be raised then he will have to sell the vehicles needed to do the work, thereby bringing the service provided to an end. "We're not crying wolf. My accountant said that unless the situation changes by the end of June we have to act and that means winding down," said Mr Pybus.
In order to continue operating, the BHCT needs first to secure £50,000 to meet existing bills, then obtain a regular income of £15,000 a month to support the six permanent staff and 14 volunteers who undertake the work.
At the moment, the BHCT receives around £4,000 a month but the income is very haphazard, being dependent almost entirely on individual donations. "There are a number of ways the funding could be obtained, half a dozen trusts could give £2,500 a month or 1500 people could give £10 a month or 150 could give £100 a month," said Mr Pybus, who also pointed out that there are 1500 churches that he writes to in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. "If they all gave £100 a year that would cover the costs," said Mr Pybus, who pointed out that the amount is a pittance when compared to the cost of end of life care.
* see: www.bhct.org.uk or 01323 301200