‘I don’t know how I would cope’

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Users of an under-threat Ashfield charity have hailed its work and support.

Home-Start, based on Percival Crescent, Sutton, could close because more than half of its funding – about £36,000 – is being withdrawn by Mansfield and Ashfield clinical commissioning group and it is expected to run out of money by spring, unless another funding source can be found.

Home-Start offers support, friendship and practical assistance to vulnerable families with young children in Ashfield.

It has more than 40 volunteers and in 2016-17 supported 64 families with 151 children.

The fear is these families would not be able to get equivalent support if the service ended.

Home-Start service users Craig and Claire Mallatratt say their volunteer enables them to be able to take their son Logan, aged two, to playgroup.

Craig said: “We get all the support needed. Claire’s blind and has joint disease so can’t do much with Logan, but having the volunteer helps her interact with him.

“I don’t go out much as I don’t like being in crowds, so without a volunteer, Logan would not be able to go to playgroup.”

Mum-of-four Lisa Bird, whose children are aged 10, two, one and 10 months, said: “Having three little ones, it is hard to get out of the house, so she helps us with the shopping or looks after them while I clean up.

“I need somebody to help – if it was not for the volunteer, I don’t know how I would cope.”

Gloria De Piero, Ashfield MP, visited the charity to talk to its volunteers and service-users.

Volunteer and mum-of-three Keeley Hardy told Ms De Piero she is assisting a family with three children.

She said one child has a skin condition that can be obvious, so Keeley helps them get out of the house and gives the mum the confidence to attend playgroups.

Volunteer Dean Burnham, was helped by Home-Start when his children were younger and has given back by helping other new dads and lone parents cope with the demands of fatherhood.

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 we provide the best value for money by removing duplication of services.

“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.”