Mansfield shelter may have to close because of council cuts

Framework staff and service users outside the Sherwood Street Day Centre which is under threat from County Council cuts.
Framework staff and service users outside the Sherwood Street Day Centre which is under threat from County Council cuts.

Homeless people determined to get their lives back on track could be left out in the cold if savage Government cuts are made, it is feared.

Charity Framework, which supplies accommodation and a lifeline to the most vulnerable in Mansfield, is deeply concerned that the proposed cuts could spell the end of their good work in the town.

The Sherwood Street facility offers day services and an emergency 15-bed accommodation facility for those who would otherwise be forced to sleep on the streets.

Clients can spend up to six months living on site, and are given help to overcome their problems, which can often be drink or drugs related, before helping get them into long-term accommodation and work.

Huge cuts are looming over Nottinghamshire County Council who admit services and funding will suffer across the board as they slash £154m from their budget in the next three years.

And the sweeping changes could see the closure of all emergency and supported housing for homeless people in the county.

For Framework, their annual funding has already been slashed from £7m to just under £4.5m, and looks set to fall by another £3.5m- an overall reduction of 85 per cent.

Having managed the earlier cuts through redundancies and service re-structuring, Framework says it can no longer bridge the gap.

Speaking about the Mansfield facility, Framework’s Neil Skinner said: “If there’s no funding for it, then it will close in the future.

“The people who live there have nowhere else to go, they have been sleeping rough. Mansfield has a sizeable rough-sleeping problem.

“It’s very-well used and is well known in the community.

“The beds are filled every night and there’s a waiting list to go in.

“We are a charity but only a small percentage comes from public donations, the vast majority come from Nottinghamshire County Council.

“For that reason, we won’t be able to just transfer it from other areas, no matter how generous the public are.”

As well as Mansfield, there are services provided in Newark, Worksop and Gedling.

Framework’s chief executive, Andrew Redfern, described the proposals as ‘devastating, unfair and catastrophic’.

He added: “The council’s previous decisions have stretched our services to the limit, and these proposals would finish them off. There is no way to absorb another disproportionate cut.”

Meanwhile, Coun Muriel Weisz, chair of the council’s adult social care, said: “We must prioritise our statutory services – those we must do – over discretionary services such as the homeless support provided by Framework. Housing-related support services were funded by Central Government through its Supporting People grant which ended three years ago so we are unable to provide all the services that were funded by this grant.

“The remaining budget will be targeted at short term prevention and early intervention services focussing on mental health and wellbeing, domestic violence, older people and vulnerable young adults.

“I welcome the opportunity to meet with Framework’s chief executive to explore how we can make the best of our funding and discuss other funding sources.”