Post by Colin Henderson on Jan 11, 2012 13:35:13 GMT
A recent article which, while not at all unique, I think is worth reporting because it is a good example of everything that is wrong with the short-term tail-chasing advice sector funding regime. Grass roots advice and information agencies in deprived areas have to spend much of their resources just battling to stay afloat somehow, and many are on the verge of sinking:
"BOSSES at a community advice centre which has been hit with a 75% cut in funding say people would be left to “suffer in silence” without its support.
Streets Ahead for Information, based in Middlesbrough’s Parliament Road, offers help to residents on issues from anti-social behaviour to housing and employment. It also fosters a sense of community in disadvantaged areas, with events such as Gresham in Bloom and the Ayresome Gala.
After launching five years ago, it was initially run under the Single Regeneration Budget and Middlesbrough Council was the accountable body, applying for grants and providing match-funding. But, once that money ran out, the community took over. Organisers successfully attracted cash from the Big Lottery Fund of £90,000 over three years. But it ended in 2009 and manager Kim May said that, in the last two years, funding sources had reduced by around three-quarters.
Paid staff positions have reduced from six to one and they also have half a dozen “invaluable” volunteers. The group’s cash now comes from a shop, which sells off donated items, and from renting out its two meeting rooms. It also received £9,000 from the European Social Fund to help local people find work and secured a contract from Middlesbrough Council to carry out consultation over the multi-million pound Gresham regeneration scheme.
Mrs May said it’s been “challenging” to keep going. But she added: “If we shut, it would mean there would be a huge gap in our local area. Lots of people in our area are disadvantaged. There’s low educational achievement and there’s loads of people dependent on benefits. There’s also lots of older people in the area and there’s the transient population because lots of houses are rented,” she said.
Many residents don’t know how to access support and services, said Mrs May. “Because we are on a local street corner they can come in here and find out what we can do,” she explained"