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Budget cut threat to homeless help

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: June 16, 2014

  • YMCA reconnect centre..John Cox (Development officer), John Holt (Reconnect mgr), Sherrie Rowlands (Trustee).

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SUPPORT for the homeless could be under threat as a charity fights to keep a contract worth £300,000 which may be axed in a new review.

Burton YMCA could see one of its largest funders pull out of a contract worth £366,873 a year as Staffordshire County Council launches a review into its £11.5 million Supporting People fund. The fund provides housing-based support to various groups, including domestic violence victims, teenage parents and those with mental health problems.

However, Burton YMCA has said it will fight to keep the full contract and not see it reduced or scrapped.

A spokesman for Burton YMCA said: “Organisations are now starting discussions with the council, and we are showing how valuable we are working with people who need our services, using all the evidence we can to show how valuable these services are to Staffordshire citizens.

“The contract is actually one of our largest funders, at £366,873 a year.”

It is not clear what services could be under threat but the charity’s main base, the Reconnect Centre, in James Street, Burton, has recently opened more accommodation for the town’s homeless and also offers training and support.

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

The YMCA spokesman added that its evidence to use in the fight would include accounts from those who use the service, including Nic Cooke.

Nic had attempted suicide three times after family and friends abandoned him when he failed a heroin detox. The YMCA provided a roof over his head and put him in touch with doctors and mental health workers.

He said: “I have changed so much with help and support from the YMCA.

“I feel safe and I get help, support and guidance. It is not just a hostel; it is our home.”

Alan White, cabinet member for care at Staffordshire County Council, said each of the 196 contracts would be reviewed, with the aim of targeting support towards early intervention and removing duplication of services.

But he insisted the review would be conducted ‘sensitively’, with ‘impact assessments’ being carried out ahead of any decision to end a contract.

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