Home-Start St Albans teams up with other branches in response to county cuts

Home-Start supporters protest outside County Hall after budget cuts

Home-Start supporters protest outside County Hall after budget cuts - Credit: Archant

A charity plagued by county council funding cuts has joined forces with other branches in an attempt to maintain its current level of service.

Home-Start St Albans, a charity that offers support to young families, lost 60 per cent of its income last year when Herts county council unexpectedly took the decision to end its contracts with them.

In response to the cuts, six separate Home-Start schemes from across the county have come together to form ‘Home-Start Hertfordshire’.

The charity still wants to offer the same services in St Albans so will have to make cuts elsewhere.

As part of the new scheme, which comes into operation on April 1, Home-Start will have a central Herts office with a reduced number of admin staff and managers.

Coordinators and volunteers will still work in the community. Suzy Moody, St Albans scheme manager, said: “It’s business as usual as far as our families and volunteers are concerned. While we are making admin and management changes, our much-loved services remain the same.

“We have had phenomenal support from the local community and it is great to be able to reassure everyone we will still be providing the valuable support so desperately needed by some families.”

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Despite the new scheme, there is still a big need for volunteers and donations in the district. Suzy added: “Any funds we raise in the district will be spent here in the district. As we enter a new era in the history of Home-Start, I feel optimistic and hugely grateful to all our supporters and also to our volunteers without whom there would be no Home-Start.”

Herts County Council provided the charity with some transition funding to help with the restructuring.

Jill Rothwell, chair of trustees for Home-Start St Albans, said: “It has been a very difficult decision to make but we have always had the needs of our families and children as the priority.

“In these times of austerity, the need for Home-Start in St Albans remains as great as ever. In coming together with other schemes across the county we continue to provide a service in and around St Albans. It would have been disastrous if we’d been forced to close.