A LONG-RUNNING Oxford charity has been saved just days before it was set to close.

The ACE Centre, based in Headington, had been faced with a funding black hole, but has been given a new lease of life after the Prime Minister personally agreed to look into the situation.

The facility, which provides support for children and adults who find it difficult to communicate and costs £150,000 a year to run, has joined forces with a similar operation in Oldham, Lancashire, with support from the Department for Education.

The plight of the charity, which was set to shut its doors on June 30, was raised by Oxford East MP Andrew Smith at Prime Minister’s Question Time in April.

Conservative leader David Cameron replied: “I do know that centre.

“I have visited it in the past, and I am very happy to look with him, as a fellow Oxfordshire MP, at what can be done to help the centre and the very good that it does, particularly for disabled children.”

The merger with the Oldham centre has allowed both facilities to save management costs by forming one organisation.

It can now also apply for more lucrative nationwide grants, rather than regional ones.

The Lancashire centre had already secured £205,000 from the Department for Education for 2012/13, but has now been given an additional £75,000 following the merger with the Oxford facility.

Bill Nimmo, the chairman of ACE Oxford’s trustees, said: “It’s the best of both worlds. We will be able to offer the same services in the future that our users are getting now.”

He added: “This is a vital and very positive step in the development of national service that is best placed to provide advice and access to technology for both children and adults with communication needs.

“Many of the individuals we have supported over the years have required very specialised assistance.

“Unifying the two ACE Centres will allow us to develop our expertise even further, which can only be a good thing for the thousands of people in England with communication needs.”

Since the centre was launched 30 years ago, it has helped about 20,000 young people and adults with communication difficulties arising from disabilities or injuries.

Mr Smith, who also spoke to Education Secretary Michael Gove about it, said: “Saving ACE Oxford from closure is great news and an enormous relief for all those with acute communication needs relying on the remarkable expertise of the centre.

“It has been heartening to see the public support for this vital work.

“The merger with ACE North is an opportunity to strengthen provision in the future, giving hope and life chances to people otherwise isolated by communication difficulties.”