A CHARITY which works to saves the lives of suicidal people at a beauty spot is at risk of closing.

The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team urgently needs £15,000 by the end of June and £50,000 over the next three months if it is to carry on its vital service.

The team, which has been running for more than a decade, came to the rescue of 364 people last year.

The charity, which recently moved to a new home in the Trinity Centre in Eastbourne, is now calling on businesses, organisations and local people to help provide short term support.

Director Mark Pybus said: “If we don’t get a significant amount of funding by the end of June we might not be here. It takes £200,000 a year to run the service we run and we can’t get core funding at the moment, that’s the issue. If we don’t exist there’ll be more deaths.”

In the last decade the charity has responded to about 6,500 incidents and carried out 2,500 rescues. It has been working to find the funding it needs, which included appointing a dedicated fundraiser, but has not found the core funds it needs to keep going.

Mr Pybus said the team has been financially operating hand-to-mouth for some time.

He added: “We need £50,000 in three months to keep us alive, that’s the minimum, and £15,000 by the end of June.”

He said the charity was now facing the prospect of having to sell off its equipment to pay wages and if that happened the service would have to end.

He added: “If the money doesn’t come in and we have to sell our assets there’ll be nothing left.

“We have 14 fantastic volunteers but if the money’s not there then the equipment we rely on will be gone and there’ll be nothing. It’s that simple and that horrific at the same time.”

The team was involved in 865 searches last year, a rise of 12% on the year before and demand is increasing.

It is a Christian chaplaincy, specialising in crisis intervention and search and rescue and works closely with Sussex Police and the Coastguard.

It costs around £200,000 a year to run the charity.

Anyone interested in helping with funding can visit www.bhct.org.uk or call 01323 301200.