Norfolk charity eyes bright future despite funding concerns

Natalie Spurdens and Martyn Lane, from Home-Start Breckland & South Norfolk.

Natalie Spurdens and Martyn Lane, from Home-Start Breckland & South Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

A charity which supports parents who need a helping hand has said the future is bright, despite facing the prospect of losing funding from Norfolk County Council.

The council is consulting over a £123m package of savings and cuts over the next three years, which could see the charity Home-Start lose £158,000 of funding in 2017/18.

The charity has five schemes in Norfolk - covering Norwich, Breckland & South Norfolk, Great Yarmouth & District, Swaffham & District and King's Lynn & West Norfolk.

It covers some 80pc of Norfolk and has supported 1,137 children in 505 families with various needs. Volunteers support families who have at least one child under the age of five.

They include families affected by financial problems, mental health issues, domestic violence or where the children have medical conditions.

Referrals come from health visitors, social workers and from the families themselves, Volunteers are able to provide free emotional support, help with budgeting, with encouraging parents to play with their children and to make use of facilities such as children's centres.

While the funding is at risk, Martyn Lane, chairman of Home-Start Breckland & South Norfolk and of the Home-Start Norfolk Consortium, said he was optimistic the vital service would survive.

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He said: 'The consortium is getting a new contract with the county council and public health for 2016/17. We know funding arrangements are going to change from 2017 and Norfolk County Council has been upfront about that. But we see a future for Home-Start as the consortium is looking to provide a service for the whole of Norfolk. We know we will have to enter the tendering process, but we are hoping we will be successful.

'Everyone with children knows what it feels like to need help at some point and Home-Start provides that when it is not available within the family or a friendship group.'

Natalie Spurdens, senior co-ordinator for Home-Start Breckland & South Norfolk, said: 'The reason families love our service is because it is voluntary. They do not have to have us in their homes but the relationships we have with them are built on trust.'

• Home-Start Breckland & South Norfolk, based at Besthorpe, is keen to recruit more volunteer workers and trustees. Anyone interested should call 01953 459892.

• Is your organisation threatened by local authority cuts? Tell us about it by calling Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk