Lincolnshire Home-Start staff to protest after council cuts funds

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A family support service will take part in a protest today (Friday) at Lincolnshire County Council, which has cut a third of its funding.

The South West Lincolnshire branch of Home-Start, which offers support to families in Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings, relies on the funding from Lincolnshire County Council and says it will have to cut its services as a result.

The county council is withdrawing its support of £480,000 a year from the eight Home-Start schemes in Lincolnshire following a £1.8m reduction in the council’s budget for children’s services and public health this year.

Home-Start trains volunteers to visit families with young children who need extra support, particularly when faced with difficulties like isolation, bereavement, illness and disability.

Acting scheme manager for the South West Lincs branch Kirsteen McVeigh said the county council cash represented a third of its funding with another third coming from the Big Lottery Fund and the remainder coming from local supporters such as the Len Pick Trust and donations.

Kirsteen said Home-Start was a small charity, which would find it difficult to source other means of funding.

Last year, the local branch helped about 130 families, while across the county 560 vulnerable families were supported.

Kirsteen said: “We really can’t afford to lose that funding as we know how valuable this service it is to so many people.”

Kirsteen believes the decision is “incredibly shortsighted” because she said that Home-Start offers services to intervene where there are problems at an early stage. She said if these problems were left to develop, it could be more costly at a later stage for other providers.

She added: “The decision came as a massive shock because of the amazing service that is currently delivered to vulnerable families by our volunteers across Lincolnshire.”

The county council said it had taken the decision to protect frontline services

Executive councillor for children’s services Patricia Bradwell (Con) said: “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 and fostering and adoption, ahead of any other funding support we give.”

She said the council had been supporting other providers ‘to promote their offerings’ and advised parents to research local centres.

To find out more about the work of Home-Start South West Lincolnshire call 01780 752983 or e-mail homestartswlincs@btconnect.com