Family charity Home-Start Sutton faces closure
A charity which has supported families with problems for almost 30 years faces closure after the council pulled its funding.
Home-Start Sutton helps families, with at least one young child, with everything from mental health problems to domestic abuse and bereavement.
Staff Gayle Reed, Kim Farlow, Judith Armstrong and Zena Leaver
The charity, which focuses on early intervention, has 80 volunteers who visit families in their home every week offering emotional and practical support.
However, after the council cancelled their funding in July Home-Start Sutton has been unsuccessful in securing ongoing support.
Over the years Sutton council allocated about £60,000 to £100,000 to the charity and if they do not find alternative funding it faces closure in the next few months - despite supporting 98 families since April 2013 alone.
The charity argues they will leave a "large gap" in family work in Sutton.
Manager, Judith Armstrong, 53, from Sutton, has been at Home-Start Sutton for 12 years, said the council was now focusing its funding and commissioning on families already involved with children and family services.
Mrs Armstrong said: "We had a get-together for all our families we have supported this year to say goodbye.
"We asked families to write in their feelings and the overwhelming thing was they saw Home-Start as part of their family and it had been a life lesson for them.
"[The volunteers] become involved in their lives and come every week for a couple of hours so people can rely on them as long as they need that support.
"I’m extremely fortunate to have a very committed and loyal staff group and volunteers continuing to be fantastic and standing by us."
Most of the charity's eight members of staff have been there for almost a decade.Two members of staff will be made redundant at the end of September while the rest will have their hours reduced.
Councillor Dave Callaghan, chairman of Sutton Council’s children, family and education committee, thanked Home-Start for the "excellent contribution" it made to the borough for many years.
He said: "However, the council is totally committed to providing the best possible value for money for taxpayers and therefore it is absolutely essential that we go through a rigorous commissioning process in order to ensure that Sutton hires the best possible provider to help families in need."
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