A CHARITY has been forced to axe three members of staff and tell up to 30 families it can no longer help them because of a chronic lack of funding.
Home Start Havant provides help and support to families with children under five who are struggling. It has suffered from a huge reduction in council and National Lottery funding over the past few years.
Earlier this year The News reported how jobs and families were at risk unless more cash was found.
Now one co-ordinator post has been made redundant which means the three people covering it part-time have to find new jobs. Support to 11 families has been withdrawn and by the end of the year the charity will only be able to have 30 vulnerable families on its books. Last year it helped 120.
Scheme co-ordinator Maggie Eveleigh said: ‘It’s been hard to have to do that because the people who work for the charity don’t do it for the money.
‘They do it because they love it and they are committed.
‘All the staff are worried about the families we can no longer help. Where will they go? There isn’t another service that can do what we do.’
The charity is no longer able to take referrals – even from the NHS.
Maggie added: ‘A health visitor contacted me about a new mum who was struggling and asked if we could pick her up. I explained we couldn’t do that because there was nothing we could offer her, we cannot take on any more families. The health visitor said “what will I do in future? Who will help the mums with depression?”.
‘We do whatever it takes to help’, said Maggie. ‘But I don’t know who will do it for those families we can’t reach now’.
Under Home Start Havant, vulnerable mums in the area are given volunteers who visit the home and do anything they need for two hours a week.
Those hours give a mum chance to catch up on sleep, go to hospital appointments, even allow her to spend time with her other children.
Amelia Wardle was referred to Home Start Havant by her health visitor a year ago when she fell pregnant with her fifth child.
The 34-year-old, from Leigh Park, said: ‘Claiton wasn’t planned and I was worried about whether I would cope.
‘My three-year-old Honi is a really hectic child, we call her Hurricane Honi.
‘I’ve suffered with depression after all my children’s births and at the time I didn’t know what I was going to do.
‘But my volunteer Gill has helped me so much. She sits with the children while I take a few hours to get on top of things.
‘Other times we just talk, she is a wonderful confidant. It is down to Home Start that I have no had depression this time round. If it weren’t for Home Start a lot of mums will suffer.’
To make a donation go to homestart-havant.org.uk.