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Funding for families ‘lifeline’ Home-Start withdrawn as council forced to make cuts

PUBLISHED: 11:25 13 July 2017

Sonia Anderson-Cunningham, Home-Start Redbridge scheme manager, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Picture: Paul Bennett

Sonia Anderson-Cunningham, Home-Start Redbridge scheme manager, celebrating its 10th anniversary. Picture: Paul Bennett

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A vital “lifeline” for young families struggling to make ends meet in Redbridge is reeling after suddenly losing its council funding.

Since 2002, Home-Start Redbridge has offered an outreach service to families in need across the borough, but has been informed it will no longer receive financial backing from Redbridge Council.

Home-Start volunteers provide home visits and group sessions to families struggling with young children, and during the last year has helped 73 families in the borough, including some at risk of domestic violence or with mental health issues.

In total Home-Start worked to support 161 children in need during that period.

Sonia Anderson-Cunningham, Home-Start Redbridge scheme manager, said: “We are absolutely devastated by the decision and it’s a real shame that the local authority has seen fit to withdraw the core funding, especially at this time when we are inundated with referrals and have seen an increase in families referring themselves to Home-Start.

“We are a lifeline to families who are dealing with so many stresses in their lives and our committed volunteers are reaching, engaging and helping disadvantaged people in a way that larger organisations often cannot.”

In its decision letter to the charity the council said stopping its funding for the organisation was a necessary response to the current financial situation.

But users of the service have stressed it is absolutely crucial to many parents.

One, a mother-of-three, said: “I was constantly feeling guilty about what I was not able to do for my children.

“Home-Start has absolutely made a difference to my stress levels. I suffer from high blood pressure and have done so from a young age. Since having a volunteer my blood pressure has gone right down.”

The charity claims it was given just two weeks’ notice that its annual funding was not being renewed and now says there is a large gap in its budget.

Now, it has written to Redbridge Council requesting a meeting with the head of child protection services and has also reached out to a number of local MPs and councillors about the problems they face.

Redbridge Council was unable to comment before the Recorder went to press.


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