A "desperately needed" centre for people living with a life-changing condition has been saved after an electrical firm's intervention.

Manager Lorna Lawrence said The Marjorie Collins Centre, which has helped multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers from its Grove Road, Chadwell Heath base for 30 years, was under threat of closure due to rising costs and lack of grant funding.

According to Lorna, 59, her centre was on the brink of closure due to "extortionate gas and electric bills" and trying to manage overheads.

Many vulnerable people with MS, which affects the central nervous system, would be left isolated with nowhere else to go without the centre, she added.

“It has been a challenging time,” Lorna said. “But I’m not one to fail and I need to keep the centre open because people desperately need it."

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Barking and Dagenham Post: Del and June Lynch - June is still a volunteer aged 75Del and June Lynch - June is still a volunteer aged 75 (Image: Deborah Marsh)

Help came in the form of friend Terry Marsh, whose father-in-law Del used the centre for around 20 years.

Terry, employed at Solace Electrical Limited, said the centre was dear to his father-in-law’s heart which is why his company provided works for free on August 23.

“He wouldn’t have been alive to be honest with you [without the centre],” he said. “It kept him sane – he had severe MS so he was there three to four times a week, which helped his long life.”

Lorna, manager since 2016, added that Solace raised £21,000 for the centre in a golf fundraiser on July 28, fully paid into her account on August 28.

"It literally saved us from closure," she said.

Del, who was wheelchair bound, died on May 31, 2021 age 73, his daughter Deborah said.

She added that she was grateful her father had somewhere he could feel normal and be himself.

“For my dad to pick himself up again and want to live his life, and have a good life - I think a lot of it was down to the centre and the friends he made,” she said.

But she said that the centre, where she volunteers, was fighting tooth and nail to stay open after being blighted by cuts.

Covid and a lack of grant funding had made life difficult but Lorna said she was determined to keep going.

“My father had MS as well,” she said. “I remember the struggles he had as a child – he lived with it all his life.

"When you see these people you can’t not want to help them - I just need to help them the best I can."

Lorna, who has lived in Romford for 25 years, said her father got MS when he was 21 and died aged 86.

The manager said some funding comes in from hiring out the hall to drama, prayer and church groups, but more support was needed.

"Our clients need more support with food because everything has gone up," she said.

"At the moment we’re finding it rather difficult to fundraise because we don’t fall into a lot of grant categories.”

The centre is currently looking for volunteers here.