Norfolk charity challenges David Cameron to see the impact of cuts
The chief executive of a Norfolk charity has invited David Cameron to meet some of the vulnerable people it supports – who he believes will be 'broken' by government cuts.
In a letter, Julian Bryant, from the Matthew Project, also told the prime minister the number of people in need of help would increase as their support networks disappeared.
The chief executive, whose charity has been helping people with drug and alcohol problems for more than 28 years, said: 'Today I am writing to you to express my concerns about the impact that cost savings will have, and are having, on the most vulnerable people.'
Mr Bryant said he understood the government expected community groups and voluntary organisations, like The Matthew Project, to take on a greater role as the cuts began to impact, under the guise of the Big Society.
He added: 'When I heard the announcement of the Big Society, I was interested and excited. My hope was that it would create and 'make' communities.
'Now I am left wondering whether, in essence, the savings may actually start to break vulnerable communities.'
Just as the public sector sees its budgets slashed and services cancelled, the groups expected to pick up the pieces are also experiencing cuts – contracts are not being renewed, new contracts are hard to find and grants are drying up.
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Mr Bryant said the government cuts were kicking in too quickly for the voluntary sector to adapt.
'Some organisations are no longer able to provide the support they have previously provided and others are at risk of ceasing their work altogether,' he said.
'To develop an alternative model to provide these services will take longer than the speed of the implementation of your savings plan.'
Mr Bryant believes the result will be that 'the most vulnerable in our society' will lose vital support groups and those people who are currently struggling to cope will slip into the vulnerable category without the preventative help they need.
Although admitting Mr Cameron was likely to be busy at the moment, Mr Bryant thinks a meeting between the prime minister and some Matthew Project users, would help him understand the effect the cuts are likely to have.
In the letter, he said: 'I would simply like to challenge you to meet some of those young people and adults we have helped to hear what it is genuinely like for these people at this time.
'I just want you to hear these honest voices about what it is like and their concerns.'
Mr Bryant said he understood savings had to be made but believed 'the speed and methods of the implementation will cause much harm'.