A COUNCILLOR who used to volunteer with a service which supports vulnerable families said she was ‘heartbroken’ by the news it is to close down at the end of this month.
Home-Start South Yorkshire said a challenging financial and funding environment for charities and financial difficulties within Home-Start South Yorkshire led to the organisation becoming insolvent, and will move to liquidation at the beginning of June.
“We really need this sort of low-level support to help people with emotional resilience,” said Coun Gill Carr. “A lot of it is just giving a leg up to people who are struggling, there’s a lot of families that need it.”
Coun Carr was a volunteer and at one time a trustee in the days before Home-Start Barnsley was absorbed into Home-Start South Yorkshire in 2016.
“It’s a great concern because we don’t have any other organisation in Barnsley that supports low level family intervention. We’ve got some families I dread think what they’ll do.
“A lot of it is low level support, but it’s a big help. One of the families I worked with had young twins, and they wouldn’t give their mum a minute. They wouldn’t even sit in a buggy together, and mum was really struggling to cope.
“I supported her, spent time with the children, and I’ll never forget her telling me it was nice to be able to go to the toilet without the door opening.
“I would go out with families to family activities, go for picnics, pick wild fruit, read stories.
“I’d spend time with the children while mums did a couple of household chores.
“Sometimes it was just a case of being there in the room with them to let the mum sort out her own thoughts.
“It is so needed. I’m heartbroken.”
A statement from Home-Start announcing the closure said it had continued ‘unfunded activity’ after it began delivering services in Barnsley.
Coun Carr said she was frustrated to hear this, as it had inherited no ‘unfunded’ projects from Barnsley, and at least £63,000 from Home-Start Barnsley’s reserves had been transferred to South-Yorkshire.
“None of the work from Barnsley went with empty pockets,” she said.
The statement from Home-Start South Yorkshire said: “Home-Start South Yorkshire is committed to doing the utmost to protect and support the 300 vulnerable families it is currently supporting. Over the next two weeks it will be focusing its efforts on working with other statutory and voluntary organisations to find continuing support for these vulnerable families.
“The loss of Home-Start will bring about a huge gap in provision for families across the region and will bring added pressures for remaining statutory and voluntary provision, but most of all it will leave vulnerable families with little options of where to turn for support at the most difficult times in their lives.”
A Barnsley Council spokesman said: “Families with children and young people (aged 0-19) seeking support can access their local Family Centre. They provide assistance and advice to children, young people and families through groups, activities and where appropriate, through one to one Family Support.
“Information on services for families across Barnsley and in local communities is also available through the Families Information Services.
“Details are available via www.barnsley.gov.uk, on a dedicated Facebook page or by calling 0800 0345 340.”
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