Family charity sees funding halved

A family taking part i Ashfield Homestart activities.
A family taking part i Ashfield Homestart activities.

A charity which has supported families with problems for almost 30 years could face closure after the medical bosses pulled its funding.

Home-Start in Sutton and Mansfield helps families, with at least one young child, with everything from mental health problems to domestic abuse and bereavement.

Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical & Newark and Sherwood Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) has told Homestart on Percival Crescent, Sutton, and at Sandy Bank Nursery, Mansfield, it is no longer funding the groups.

Homestart was funded jointly by the CCG and Nottinghamshire County Council and now needs to make up £36,000 in Ashfield and £32,000 in Mansfield annually.

Liz Sheldon senior organiser at Ashfield Homestart said: “We work with a lot of families with parental disability and children with special needs as well. Last year 70 per cent of our referrals were for mental health issues.

“ Our volunteers currently help 39 families in Ashfield alone. There is nowhere else for them to go – they don’t readily engage with other services and we help them to do that. In a ‘worst case scenario’ Ashfield Homestart could close in March.

”We are all so committed and passionate about the difference we make to families lives, that we will explore every option to keep providing the service.”

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said the closure would have devastating repercussions for the families that rely on it for help and advice now, and those who might need it in the future.

She said: “I have spoken with staff who have told me of their fears should alternative funding not be found and I will shortly be meeting with service users to hear their side too.

“I have already written to the CCG and the Health Secretary about the situation and am doing all I can to make sure this valuable service survives.”

A CCG spokesman said: “As local government, health providers and other NHS organisations work together to provide a variety of services to people, we are better able to ensure that we provide the best value for money by removing any duplication of services across organisations.

“Parents with children under five, who require family support, will continue to be able to access services such as Health Visiting Services which visit families at home and at SureStart Children’s Centres.

“Existing Homestart users will be supported to transition to alternative services to avoid any adverse effects.”

Mansfield Labour Parliamentary hopeful Melanie Darrington, who is working with Ms De Piero on the campaign, added: “We will be trying to help the two Homestarts with their funding problems and will be urging the CCG to reconsider.

“The children being supported receive a Christmas gift each year and this year they can only afford a £1 selection box for them. We would be grateful for any help.”