AN austerity-hit charity has closed a unique project which helps children affected by drink and drugs misuse.

Scottish children’s charity Aberlour set up the Bridges Project in Possilpark, Glasgow eight years ago to support children whose parents are addicted to alcohol or illegal substances.

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The acclaimed scheme included a teacher and practical supports for parents to make sure the children involved do not miss out on health care and education.

But the charity has been forced to end the service, after funding from the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) came to an end.

The lottery distributor awarded Aberlour £290,000 for three years from its Third Sector Early Intervention fund in 2013.

The closure has drawn attention to the pressure on lottery funds, as charities turn to BLF Scotland to help them cope with cuts made by councils.

Charitable organisations are also facing increased costs from the introduction of the UK Government’s “living wage” and the enhanced living wage for care workers, which the Scottish Government is introducing in October.

The country's biggest social work union said the loss of the Glasgow project was a disaster and a sign of things to come.

Deborah Dyer, Unison Scotland voluntary sector secretary, said: “Very vulnerable people are relying on these services and where are they going to go now? The reality is that there is no replacement and nowhere else for people to go.”

A spokeswoman for Aberlour said the funding had run out at the end of the last financial year, but the charity had kept the Bridges Project going using its own reserves, in an unsuccessful attempt to find another funder.

During 2015 the project worked with 30 parents, and 90 children and young people at risk of neglect and abuse.

Social and health workers are among those who have relied on the Bridges project to help protect children and help them with everything from home work to communication skills and coping with bereavement.

Ms Dyer said: “As a result of the funding crisis, charities are having to close really valuable projects that are still required by the community and there is nothing to replace them.

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“Over the next three years we are going to face more and more of that. This is adding to the stress for social workers and making it more and more difficult for them to find the services for the people they look after.”

She said that it was now common for social workers to have to spend days on the phone looking for supports for vulnerable children, and in some cases begging charities to offer support.

“Charities are struggling for funding as councils cut back and also struggling to staff the services they have got. I think we will start to see the big charities closing down some really crucial supports."

A spokesman for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, which has campaigned over cuts to mental health services for young people and educational supports for children with additional learning needs, said there was increasing concern in the sector.

“The closure of services such as this is symptomatic of disturbing wider cuts in services to vulnerable children and young people we are witnessing across Scotland,” he said.

“The social and economic cost of not addressing the issues these children and young people face is well-established, and both they and their families desperately need our help and support.”

Jim Wallace, Aberlour’s director of children and families, said: “Aberlour Bridges – Glasgow was a family support service offering early intervention for children and families affected by a range of challenges, including homelessness, domestic abuse, parental drug and alcohol use, and parental ill health.

“The funding environment for charities is often complex and challenging, and as a result of funding streams coming to an end, the service closed last month.

“It’s a difficult time for the Third Sector, particularly in the wake of increasing public sector cuts leading to greater competition for non-statutory funding sources such as grant-giving organisations and trust funds.

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“Naturally we are disappointed that we will no longer be able to offer this service in Glasgow but we are actively seeking to develop a new service with a similar remit in future and we remain committed to early intervention for families across Scotland.”

The Bridges Project in Dundee, which is separately funded, will continue, while the Bridges Partnership, another Aberlour project which works with children affected by domestic violence is also unaffected.