Faith in Families, the charity which runs centres in some of the most deprived areas of Swansea, has warned it will be forced to start the redundancy process for staff in the new year unless it gets confirmation of funding from the Welsh Government.
The Clase, Bonymaen and Penplas centres rely on the Communities First initiative for 79% of their funding, but Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant has said he is “minded to phase out” the programme.
Faith in Families’ CEO Cherrie Bija has now written to Mr Sargeant, saying: “Without confirmation of any continuation funding the redundancy process will begin in January 2017, in order for the centres to fulfil their contractual obligations to employees.
“With no further funding, services in the three family centres will end on March 31, 2017. Therefore an exit strategy will need to be developed with the community at the start of 2017. We have a number of vulnerable families with complex needs accessing multiple services in our centres, as well as children accessing childcare in order for parents to work.
“Closing these centres will have a high impact on these communities and therefore we would need to provide as much notice as possible.”
Faith in Families is part of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon’s board for social responsibility. Its chairman, Alan Jevons, has also issued a statement, calling on the Welsh Government not to “walk away” from the centres, and praising their “committed and highly-skilled” staff.
The lord mayor of Swansea, who was guest of honour at the charity’s Christmas concert last week, has pledged to speak to the council’s anti-poverty cabinet member to see what help the council can offer.
Cllr David Hopkins said: “The work Faith in Families do in our most vulnerable communities is outstanding. I will be speaking to our anti-poverty cabinet member about the future help we can offer.
“They do work that we cannot do and I am more than happy to support them.”
The full statement from Ven Alan says:
Faith in Families believes it is vital to give children the best possible start in life, and to enrich the lives of the most vulnerable in society.
Extensive research has proved that the first 1,000 days of life are significant, and influence the outcomes for children, parents and families for the rest of their lives. We know, and the evidence shows, that early intervention supports those vulnerable families and is cost-effective in the long term.
Our network of family centres serves some of the most deprived areas of Swansea, and our incredible staff are committed, highly-skilled and dedicated to making a real difference to those who use our services.
Therefore, we are greatly concerned by the possibility that fundamental projects may be forced to close if crucial government funding is removed.
The flagship initiative for tackling poverty, Communities First, accounts for 79% of the overall funding of our family centres and 34% of our funding as an organisation.
The Welsh Government’s Communities Secretary Carl Sargeant has said he is “minded to phase out” the programme and, without confirmation of on-going support, we will have no option than to begin 2017 looking at ways of closing our family centres at the end of the current funding stream.
The Welsh Government has said its “commitment to tackling child poverty is not in doubt”. With that in mind, we believe it cannot just walk away from such successful services as Faith in Families, and allow families to develop more complicated and costly needs.
We are consulting with the communities we serve, talking to stakeholders and petitioning politicians with stories of the difference we have made, and the resilience we have created in the lives of many.
Our centres have become safe, secure zones for those in most need, and we are inviting decision-makers to see this work for themselves, and not just listen to but join the conversation about what the loss of this funding would mean for our communities.