Homeless young people in County Hall visit to thank councillors
Homeless young people visited County Hall in Matlock on Tuesday to thank councillors for listening to their concerns – and to remind them of the importance of the service.
Derbyshire County Council announced plans last year to dramatically cut funding for its Adult Social Care Budget – plans that would have seen a debilitating 85% cut in funding to homeless and vulnerable young people in the county.
SAFE, a consortium of three local support providers working with homeless young people, warned at the time that the proposals would force it to close and launched a campaign (Their Future Your Choice) to urge the council to think again.
The council has now agreed to find additional funding of £850,000 from its Public Health budget to fund the SAFE service for the 2015/16 financial year. Young service users, who have led from the front throughout the campaign, attended the council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, July 28 to thank councillors for listening to their concerns – and to remind them of the importance and effectiveness of the service.
SAFE Consortium Lead Sarah Wainwright explained: “Our young people have really led from the front during this campaign, and it has been fantastic to see how engaged they have become in the political process. They have attended meetings, met directly with councillors, written to their MPs and even sung Christmas Carols on the steps of County Hall. I really believe that their efforts have had an impact on this decision and I am delighted they have been listened to in this way.”
SAFE, a Framework-led consortium completed by Stonham and Adullum, have held a number of public events to raise awareness of its campaign, including a well-attended art exhibition in Matlock and a Christmas carol concert in the town centre. The service has also collected a large petition and presented Council Leader Anne Western with a wide-range of case studies and research materials proving the effectiveness of the service.
Danniella, 23, has been helped by SAFE over the last two years. She explained: “Safe have been a life saver quite literally for me. When I first came to Framework they gave me somewhere I could call home, which I hadn’t had for a very long time before that. They worked with me to address my other issues including debt and sorting my mental health issues out.
“When I heard about the proposed cuts I was devastated. I was worried that people that were in my previous situation would not get the valuable service and help that I had received.
“I got involved in lots of campaigning to get my voice heard. In all honesty I didn’t think that my opinion would make much of a difference so it was a great feeling when I was told that our voices had been heard and people did care about our thoughts and opinions and we had managed to get them to secure funding from its public health budget to at least fund another financial year. For this I thank all the councillors that listened to us.”
The Cabinet has proposed similar cuts to funding for 2016/17 – cuts that will be resisted by the service, its staff and service users.