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Annual celebration vows to fight YMCA cuts

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 09, 2014

  • 07/07/14 YMCA Awards Evening YMCA Annual celebration at the Pirelli Stadium.Gillian Cox

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TIRELESS campaigning has started in a bid to save a £300,000 contract to protect homeless people in Burton, a charity’s president has revealed.

Burton YMCA held its annual celebration at Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium where the football club’s chairman spoke out about the need to keep Staffordshire County Council’s Supporting People fund which currently provides the charity with £366,873 a year.

Ben Robinson, who has been re-elected to another three-year term as president of Burton YMCA, spoke to more than 100 audience members: “These are tough times for the YMCA as one of its largest funders to its housing services could be cut.

“For the last few weeks I have been campaigning to convince Staffordshire County Council not to cut its budget for the YMCA. The voluntary services this charity delivers is so important to this town.

“Its emergency accommodation demand has risen 30 per cent since last year and there is continuing demand for its food parcels.

“Everyone at the YMCA says it is essential that these funds are not cut.”

The county council launched a review into its £11.5 million Supporting People fund which provides housing-based support to various groups, including domestic violence victims, teenage parents and those with mental health problems.

The consultation could see the council’s Supporting People fund reduced by £6 million, affecting 196 contracts with 43 providers across the county.

Mental health charity, Rethink, will have all of its funding pulled in Staffordshire.

The annual celebration on Monday also heard from YMCA users Arthur Radcliffe and Kerry Bartram.

Arthur came to the YMCA’s Milton House after finding himself ‘borderline homeless’ and was given a support worker who helped get his life back on track.

Kerry says she came from ‘a place of chaos and uncertainty’ and is now making great strides forward since coming to the YMCA.

The audience also heard from Pete O’Reilly, mediation officer, who spoke about the charity’s work in neighbour disputes which has handled 137 hours worth of counselling.

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