Shock closure of charity to hit vulnerable families

Home-Start had been working in South Yorkshire for 35 years
Home-Start had been working in South Yorkshire for 35 years
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Support for hundreds of vulnerable families across South Yorkshire has been thrown into doubt after a charity announced it will cease all services due to “financial difficulties”.

Liquidation proceedings have begun at Home-Start South Yorkshire, which says it remains “committed to doing the utmost” to protect and support the 300 vulnerable families it is currently helping.

It will cease all work in just two weeks time, on May 31, after providing support for families in the region for more than 35 years.

Chief executive Cat Ross, who took over from former chief executive and Sheffield City Council cabinet member Coun Jack Scott, who was at the helm for four years, in March, told the Yorkshire Post the charity’s financial issues dated back to 2016 when amalgamated with, and took over the services of, Home-Start Barnsley.

In order to keep providing services that were already in place, it was forced to use a “significant amount” of Home-Start South Yorkshire’s reserves.

She added: “This loss of reserves, as well as an additional significant reduction in funding, brought about not only a large gap in Home-Start South Yorkshire’s funding but also an immediate cash flow crisis.”

It supported parents who were dealing with issues such as isolation, sickness, disability, mental health, domestic abuse, multiple births or difficult relationships. It also helped refugee families.

Over the next two weeks it will be focusing its efforts on working with other statutory and voluntary organisations to find continuing support for the vulnerable families it works with. The charity said Sheffield Council has also offered to help.

However, Ms Ross said: “Unfortunately,some of the families we work with will not be able to access support from somewhere else.”

She added: “The loss of Home-Start will bring a about a huge gap in provision for families and bring added pressures for remaining statutory and voluntary provision. 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.

She said the staff were “deeply sad and sorry” that it had “come to this end”, and while some of the 20 members of staff were being kept on to oversee the closure, some had already been given notice.

Home-Start South Yorkshire is part of Home-Start UK, which also has multiple branches across Yorkshire, including Kirklees, Leeds and Calderdale.

A spokesperson for Home-Start UK said the closure did not effect any other Home-Starts.

He said: “This is a terribly sad situation for families, volunteers and staff. This situation shows the very challenging environment for local charities and the importance of ensuring they have a diverse range of income and unrestricted support.”

Concerned families and volunteers in South Yorkshire can call 0114 2788377.