Home-Start helpers in Herts are rocked by funds threat as County Hall prepares axe

Keeley Sparrow, pictured with children Thomas, Oliver and William, is dismayed by Home-Start funding

Keeley Sparrow, pictured with children Thomas, Oliver and William, is dismayed by Home-Start funding cuts - Credit: Archant

Vital support for vulnerable families struggling to cope will be lost if a £390,000 charity funding cut is given the go ahead.

Herts County Council has announced plans to stop funding family support charity Home-Start’s home visiting service from September.

The charity provides support to 395 struggling families with young children in Hertfordshire.

Volunteers visit families in their homes each week, supporting parents in situations as diverse as isolation, bereavement, multiple births, illness, disability, or people generally finding parenting a struggle. They offer practical and emotional support to help build a family’s confidence and ability to cope.

Cash-strapped County Hall has justified pulling the plug on funding by saying an increase in services provided by children’s centres means a wide variety of support is still available.

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The proposed cut will be discussed at County Hall today, with Home-Start volunteers, staff and families planning a lobby.

The move casts a shadow over the future of the county’s nine Home-Start centres.

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Faith Hojeer, manager of the North Herts branch, says the funding cut will mean closure of the branch by the end of the year unless funding can be found elsewhere.

She said: “We are all shocked and devastated. The children’s centres won’t be able to provide the same service at home.”

Mother-of-three Keeley Sparrow from Holwell has been helped by Home-Start. She said: “I don’t know how we would have gotten through the last three years without them around.

“We wouldn’t be the family we are now without them. We would have fallen apart.”

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