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Bombshell cut puts future of Wyre Forest family charity in jeopardy
CHILDREN’S safety in Wyre Forest could be compromised and the most vulnerable families may not receive support until they reach “crisis point” if a charity is forced to shut due to council cuts, its manager has warned.
The Shuttle has learned Worcestershire County Council is pulling the plug on its funding contract with Wyre Forest Home- Start – a vital befriending service which last year provided early help for 409 children in 199 families across the district.
The £77,000-a-year contract represents 55 per cent of the charity’s income but, because of the uncertainty, grants from other sources have also been frozen.
Home-Start manager Belinda Darby said she was determined not to close the charity but might have to suspend activities while alternative funding is sought.
County council figures show the move would save the authority £315,500 across Worcestershire and Conservative councillor Liz Eyre, cabinet member for children and families, said Home-Start services would be provided by 10:32 in Wyre Forest from next February.
10:32 receives funding from the council to help vulnerable parents and young people tackle problems before they worsen and was set up in August by children’s charity Barnardo’s, the ContinU Trust and Vestia.
It is unclear, however, whether the group would be able to give Home- Start users the same level of service, which includes visiting families at home over a six to nine-month period.
Nicola Green, 10:32 spokeswoman, said the groups “complemented” each other, adding: “We hope Home-Start can secure additional funding so they can continue to have a presence in Wyre Forest.”
Mrs Darby said: “It is insulting for our families to be told they will be moved across to a targeted intervention service, which is different and not necessarily the correct service for them.
“It could mean the most vulnerable families will go into support at crisis point. From a child protection point of view, children will be less safe, often because we are the only agent going into the home to pick up the concerns.
“The families will become more isolated and vulnerable and difficulties will escalate.”
Mrs Darby added no consultation or risk assessment had been carried out by the council. She said: “If this had been done it would have been clear there will be a gap in services”.
She said: “It makes me feel very disillusioned with the new commissioning structure.”
Mrs Eyre said: “We remain committed to protecting vulnerable residents of the county and investing in the future.
“To do this we need to do things differently and we are investing in district-based early help services, which will work to nip problems in the bud for families before they escalate and need higher-cost social care intervention.”
She added: “We hope to work closely with Home-Start to minimise any disruption to families.”
Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier said he would take up the issue and see what could be done to help Home-Start.
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