A crisis support service for people and families in East Sussex who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is facing a proposed 50 per cent cut (£1.6 million) to its funding.
The service is appealing for the public’s support to prevent the cut which it says will have a ‘devastating’ impact on vulnerable people.
East Sussex County Council confirmed the proposed funding cut for Home Works at its Full Cabinet meeting on the February 6.
Before final Cabinet decisions are made in June, the County Council is running a public consultation, which is open until April 25.
Southdown, the not-for-profit provider of Home Works, is using the public consultation to lobby for a reduction in the proposed funding cut.
Chief Executive at Southdown, Neil Blanchard, said, “If this reduction goes ahead, it would have devastating consequences for thousands of local vulnerable people facing homelessness.
“It would increase the number of people forced to sleep rough on the streets and result in a loss of access to support for people with multiple and complex issues such as mental health challenges, living in poverty and fleeing domestic abuse.
“It would also transfer considerable additional pressures onto East Sussex housing, health and social care services.
“Home Works plays a crucial role in cases where other services cannot deal with the whole range of complex and inter-related problems people are facing. As such, continuation of Home Works’ funding should be prioritised.”
Mr Blanchard added, “We are coordinating a range of activities to encourage and support Home Works’ current and former clients, staff, partner agencies and stakeholders to participate in the Council’s consultation exercise and oppose the 50 per cent cut.
“If you live in East Sussex, please help save Home Works and have your say.”
Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Stephen Lloyd is supporting the service’s appeal.
He said, “Home Works play a vital role in supporting many vulnerable people locally. My own office work closely with them on numerous cases.
“The 50 per cent cut from East Sussex County Council is absolutely draconian and will have a devastating impact on many of the most disadvantaged people across the County.
“I would urge County Hall rescind the threat immediately.”
Described as a ‘life-line’ by many of the people it supports, Home Works was established in 2009 and provides support for 3,200 people, and their families, each year.
Sharron, a former client of Home Works from Eastbourne, shared her experience of the support she has received.
She said, “Home Works has given me a life. Before, I just existed.
“Four years ago, I lost my job, had a nervous breakdown and ended up losing my flat and becoming homeless.
“I sofa-surfed and slept on the street. It was horrible, absolutely horrible. It was very scary.
“I hadn’t gone to the doctor or hospital when I had my breakdown. I didn’t know I was having a breakdown because I’d never suffered from depression before.
“Getting medication when you’re on the streets was hard too – I had high blood pressure and was asthmatic.
“I suddenly woke up one day and thought there’s got to be some help out there. I went to the council but because I owed them rent arrears, they couldn’t give me a deposit for a flat. I had to declare myself bankrupt.
“The council gave my number to Home Works on a Friday. That very same day I got a call from my Home Works Worker. She checked if I had accommodation for the weekend and then we met on the Monday.
“Within six weeks of meeting her, I was in my flat where I am now. I found the room myself online through Get A Room.
“She said that I’d done the hard work of finding somewhere, it was just getting funding.
“So my Home Works Worker went off and found the funding. She went above and beyond for me. She worked really hard at finding the whole of the funding – for rent, deposit, and admin fee.
“I have a picture drawn by my granddaughter pinned on my fridge of her at nanny’s house. I burst into tears when I put it on there.”
She said her worker managed to get funding for her to buy a kettle, crockery, cutlery. And then they went to the foodbank to get some food, a duvet and pillows for when I moved in.
Sharron said, “People have been very generous. What Home Works have been really good is supporting me to go to the doctor to look at my feet.
“My feet are in really bad condition since I was street homeless. She came with me to the appointment – I wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
“I trust my Home Works Worker. I find it very difficult to trust people. She was a complete stranger to me before. Hopefully, I can start to trust more people in my life.
“I want to go back to work but I’ve been advised to get my physical and mental health sorted first. Home Works help with everything.
“I feel like I’m living again and I’m smiling. Home Works support has restored my faith in society.”
For information on East Sussex County Council’s budget proposals for 2018/19 and to respond to their public consultation visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/ascsavings.
For more information about Home Works visit www.southdown.org/housing-support/home-works-east-sussex contact Sarah Bray by emailing email@example.com or call 01273 405 800.