Home-Start’s Grantham team at funding cut protest outside Lincolnshire County Council

Home-Start volunteers and families demonstrate outside Lincolnshire County Council.
Home-Start volunteers and families demonstrate outside Lincolnshire County Council.
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Volunteers and staff fighting to protect a family support charity from the loss of council funding have protested against the move.

Supporters of Home-Start Lincolnshire staged a protest outside a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s scrutiny committee on Friday.

Home-Start serves Grantham and seven other schemes in the county, helping families with guidance on physical and mental health, finance and housing difficulties, children’s behavioural issues and domestic abuse.

The Grantham branch supports around 113 families, including 250 children. Sarah High, scheme manager of Home-Start Grantham, said: “The support we provide is still needed by these families, and not having the service could result in them reaching crisis point, which will just put pressure on social survices.”

She added: “Around 50 volunteers and families protested last week. By doing so we have raised awareness.”

Kirsteen McVeigh, acting scheme manager at the South West Lincs branch, says the withdrawal would amount to £480,000 a year from the eight Home-Start branches - which represents a third of its total funding.

The council has to find £120m worth of savings over the next three years, on top of the £150m worth of savings already made since 2010.

Executive councillor for children’s services Patricia Bradwell (Con) said: “In this difficult financial climate when we have to find substantial savings, we have to prioritise essential, frontline services, which has meant that Home-Start will no longer receive funding from the county council. The contract with Home-Start has reached its natural end and we have had to review what is provided, as we do with all our contracts.

“We recognise groups like Home-Start provide good support to many people, but this isn’t one of our statutory services and we have to protect frontline children’s services such as safeguarding, fostering and adoption, ahead of any other funding support we give.”

Coun Charmaine Morgan (Lab) has spoken out against the cuts. “Officers advised us that they were going through a process of ‘re-commissioning services’ and that they may find an alternative supplier to Home Start for the work they provide,” she said.

“I commented that even if this is the case it is still nonsensical to stop funding a successful and respected group of volunteers and lose all of their knowledge, skills and the relationships they have developed with their families.”