Funding hopes are dashed

Streetlife, Buchanan Street, Blackpool. Jane Hugo (CEO).
Streetlife, Buchanan Street, Blackpool. Jane Hugo (CEO).
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The chief executive of a Blackpool homeless shelter has penned a desperate plea for help, warning it could close down next year after funding was scrapped.

Streetlife was one of several local charities to suffer a major blow after Blackpool Council announced it would not be providing direct funding as it had to make drastic cuts in its spending.

The charity’s £45,000 council funding will run out in November, and in an open letter, its chief executive Jane Hugo says there is only enough money in the Streetlife pot to keep it going until March 31.

In a further blow, the council has turned down a separate bid for further support.

Its latest application was to the council’s housing-related support, which was put out for tender and would have paid for four emergency beds for homeless young people.

But that bid has been unsuccessful in its first stages.

In the letter, posted on Facebook, Mrs Hugo appealed for help to secure funding for the night shelter, next to St John’s Church in Blackpool, in order to guarantee its future after the end of March.

She says: “We hope to continue running the shelter after this providing the need is there. Four hundred different young people access Streetlife’s services each year and we intend to continue to provide valuable support to some of the most vulnerable young people in the country.”

As previously reported in The Gazette, Streetlife has funding from Children in Need, Comic Relief and the Amy Winehouse Foundation, among other organisations, designed to help secure its future and encourage more young people to use its services. But the council funding loss has created new 

The letter adds: “We are being ensure that we can continue to encourage these young people to access suitable accommodation, develop their skills, get the support they need and are entitled to, access education, training and employment opportunities and critically have their basic needs met.”

Speaking to The Gazette, Mrs Hugo said: “We are disappointed to be losing so much funding from the council, however the Government cuts are so severe that the council has to make tough decisions and we understand that, sadly, national austerity cuts are hitting vulnerable people all over the country.

“We are really worried about the future for young people, especially those who have a tough start in life. The council have provided funding to Streetlife since it stared in the 1980s and whilst they have decided to cut back financially they are still offering us support in other areas.”

In July, 17 different young people stayed in the shelter, including one pregnant woman. Nine said they had slept rough in the past, 11 said they left home after a relationship breakdown, five were evicted from other 
accommodation and one was fleeing violence.

Blackpool Council declined to comment, saying there was an ongoing funding process.

In January, the council announced it would axe £400,000 of funding in annual grants to voluntary organisations.

It’s a 50 per cent cut on funding it was providing, and all grants to the voluntary service are set to be scrapped next year.

A report at the time said the cuts were based on the premise that such services were “more appropriately developed through commissioned work rather than grants”. The first wave of the cuts came into effect in June.