Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero met with families who use the under-threat Home Start service to hear how vital its help is to them.
The registered charity, based on Percival Crescent in Sutton, could close because over half of its funding – around £36,000 – is being withdrawn by Mansfield and Ashfield CCG and it is expected to run out of money by next spring unless another funding source can be found.
Home Start offers support, friendship and practical assistance to vulnerable families with young children in Ashfield.
It has over 40 volunteers and in 2016-17, supported 64 families with 151 children.
The worry is that these families would not be able to get equivalent support if the service was to cease.
Gloria met with two of these families to hear directly how valuable Home Start is to them.
Craig and Claire Mallatratt say their volunteer enables them to be able to take their son Logan (2) to playgroup.
Craig said: “We get all the support needed. Claire’s blind and has joint disease so can’t do much with Logan but having the volunteer helps her to interact with him.
“I don’t go out very much as I don’t like being in crowds, so without a volunteer, Logan would not be able to go to playgroup.”
Gloria also spoke to single parent Lisa Bird, a mum of four, whose children are aged 10, two, one and 10 months.
Lisa said: “Our volunteer comes round once a week. Having three little ones, it is hard to get out of the house, so she helps us with the shopping or looks after them while I clean up.
“We also go out on day trips, which my 10-year-old loves.”
Lisa added: “I need somebody to help – if it was not for the volunteer, I don’t know how I would cope.”
Families are mainly referred to Home Start by their health visitors, with its volunteers offering friendly support and practical help with childcare on weekly visits.
One of its volunteers, Keeley Hardy, a mum of three children, one of whom is autistic, told Gloria she is assisting a family with the three children at the moment.
One of the children has a skin condition that can be very obvious, so Keeley helps them get out of the house and gives the mum the confidence to attend playgroups.
“Volunteering gets me out of the house and I have had those stares – I know how it feels so I can empathise,” she said.
Another volunteer, Dean Burnham, was helped by Home Start himself when his children were younger and has given back by helping other new dads and lone parents cope with the demands of fatherhood.
Home Start organiser Colleen Smith has also been involved with the charity since the 1990s.
She referred after suffering with severe post-natal depression and is now a staff member.
“My volunteer saved my life,” she told Gloria.
Gloria said: “After speaking to the families who personally benefit from Home Start’s service, I have no doubt that it is essential to our community.
“If Home Start were to close, these vulnerable families would have nowhere to turn to that could give such reliable, friendly and life-changing support.
“I would urge the CCG to look again at its decision to cut Home Start’s funding.
“The cost of supplying equivalent care and assistance to the families it helps would be far greater than the money it needs to keep going.”
Gloria has written to the CCG and the Health Secretary about the funding decision and is awaiting replies.