‘We’re desperately scrounging for money’ – Home-Start North Herts will need to change to survive says centre manger

North Herts Home-Start manager Faith Hojeer says the charity is desperately scrounging for money to

North Herts Home-Start manager Faith Hojeer says the charity is desperately scrounging for money to keep services running. - Credit: Archant

A charity which supports vulnerable families has said it is ‘desperately scrounging’ for money to keep services running.

Herts County Council stopped funding family support charity Home-Start for its home visiting service last month, saving £390,000 a year.

Home-Start provides support to about 400 struggling families with young children in the county, and the decision to pull the plug on funding was met with fierce opposition from the community.

The funding cut has put the future of the charity and its nine centres across the county in jeopardy. When the decision was announced in July, the manager of Home-Start North Herts, Faith Hojeer, said her centre could only keep going until December.

Now, the centre’s future is secure until June next year, at least, although Faith says the struggle for money has led to an unwanted shift in focus.

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Speaking ahead of the charity’s annual general meeting next week, she said: “We have been desperately scrounging around for money from here, there and everywhere.

“It’s hard work and I want to be out helping families instead.”

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She added that the charity has been ‘quite fortunate’ in that North Herts District Council has provided some financial support, including two grants totalling £9,400 from the Baldock and Letchworth area committees.

When the county council announced the cuts, it set aside £200,000 to help Home-Start adjust to the new arrangements, but the charity must come up with a business plan of how the money will be spent before it is released to them.

Faith said the charity may have to be reconfigured in order to survive, and would be looking to local businesses for support.

She said: “There will obviously be more changes, but we just have to get through it.”

County Hall says an increase in services provided by children’s centres, the expansion of free nursery education and an enhanced health visiting service mean it is no longer appropriate to continue funding the provision.

Home-Start North Herts is holding its annual general meeting at 9.30am on Wednesday, October 28, at Howgills Friends’ Meeting House on South View in Letchworth. If you want to help the charity call Faith on 07523 975897 or log on to www.homestartnorthherts.org.uk.

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