Child support group funding crisis

CHILDREN who provide essential emotional help to parents suffering from mental health problems could be left without support after widespread budget cuts by health bosses.

CHILDREN who provide essential emotional help to parents suffering from mental health problems could be left without support after widespread budget cuts by health bosses.

The EADT recently revealed how many voluntary groups could be forced to close or dramatically reduce services after Colchester Primary Care Trust told them funding was being stopped in a bid to balance its books.

The trust said it had to make cuts, worth tens of thousands, to “protect and improve” its frontline services, but yesterday it was warned the changes would lead to no more than “punitive savings” with devastating consequences for vulnerable people.

Colchester Carers Centre for Children helps youngsters who care for parents who suffer with depression and can be suicidal. But the project has now been told it “was not considered to justify the full funding”.

You may also want to watch:

Its money will come to a halt at the end of December and it, along with all the other groups, has been told no further grants will be available next year.

The centre, in Oaks Drive, provides vital respite for carers, some as young as eight, who look after a lone parent who often suffers with mental health problems such as depression.

Most Read

Shirley Cuthew, company secretary, said she was searching for alternative sources of income to keep the project going, pledging it would close “over her dead body”.

“There is no way I can let these young carers down, it is ludicrous, our funding was due to come to and end in March anyway, so it was really punitive of them to cut the remainder.

“It is worrying but I am hopeful we will be able to get some money from charitable trusts that have supported us in the past.

“If we were to close the families we are supporting would be distraught - they would be the ones to suffer as we have known some of them for five or six years and we have built up trust with them.

“I think some of them would be at risk and also we cannot take anybody new on to the project because we do not know what the future holds and we cannot risk raising people's expectations.”

Samantha Drummond, the chief executive officer for Colchester Community Voluntary Services, accused the PCT of ignoring the human impact of the cuts.

“It is really quite concerning that the decision which has been made to cut funding has been made on the bottom line of the accounts deficit and I don't feel proper research has been done by the PCT.

“They are looking for cuts and that is not a good way to manage the position. This all came as a bolt out of the blue and is devastating for the groups.”

She added although some groups would be able to cope better than others, it was likely that many would have to make cuts in services, staffing and may even be forced to close.

Dr Mike Gogarty, director of public health, said: “These are very difficult times for everybody in the NHS.

“We really do value the voluntary sector and all the important work they do and services they provide. We will also continue to work in partnership with a large number of local voluntary services.

“However, increasing demand for emergency and specialist health services means we are forced to review all areas of expenditure to help us achieve financial balance.

“If we do not make sure we are spending wisely on the correct voluntary organisations we would not be in a position to continue funding them and others in the future.”

In a statement yesterday, the PCT said: “After detailed and lengthy consideration Colchester PCT has completed its review of funding for voluntary organisations.

“The PCT is glad to announce it will be in a position to continue to fund a large number of voluntary organisations. However, the PCT has had to withdraw funding from some organisations.

“The decision has now been made to only fund those voluntary organisations playing a key role supporting the PCT to achieve the seven national and local NHS priorities.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter