It’s almost a year since four Home-Start charities in Derbyshire found out that all of their local authority funding from Derbyshire County Council was being withdrawn, leaving a massive hole in their finances and potentially sounding the death knell for the schemes which help parents to provide better lives for their children.
Having put a brave face on the announcements at the time, the schemes have had to make savings – jobs have been lost, one branch in Amber Valley has closed completely, procedures have changed to save money and major new fundraising initiatives have been started. But now there is genuine optimism for the future of the invaluable service right across Derbyshire as Anthea Murphy, Senior Coordinator at Home-Start High Peak, based in Buxton, explains.
“Despite the funding cuts, we were all desperate to continue supporting families and with the backing of our staff and trustees and the generous support of volunteers we have managed to keep the service running without too much disruption. We helped over 50 families in 2014 which means more than 100 children will have had a better start in life than may otherwise have been the case. And we intend to keep going.
“We’ve cut our overheads right back so that for every pound we raise, just two pence is spent on administration. Everything else goes towards front line support for families. We have funds to keep supporting families for the next year or so thanks to a lottery grant and some European funding but we are actively pursuing other funding bids, individually for this area and in collaboration with our colleagues in Home-Start South Derbyshire and Home-Start Erewash where there are opportunities to provide support in a more joined up way throughout the county.”
Each local Home-Start is self-funded and, with demand for the support the charity provides increasing year on year, there is always a need to raise funds through grants, individual and corporate donations. And that’s where a bit of innovative thinking comes in.
“We are looking at how we can work with local businesses to provide paid for seminars on issues such as domestic abuse for staff. We are working with the local University campus to explore some group events and we are trying to create projects that will benefit local communities to be funded by people in those communities. We are considering expanding the area we serve to the north and east of the county, but only if we can generate the funding to do so. And we are investigating how we can deliver highly specialised support where things like school readiness and good nutrition are concerned. One thing’s for sure, there’s no shortage of vulnerable families – parents and children – out there for us to support.
“Our commitment to the families we support, our volunteers, and our partners is as strong as ever. We are most definitely here to stay!”
For further media enquiries please call Neil Bent, Chair of Home-Start High Peak, on 07957 143 450.