On 17th February Burngreave New Deal announced that from 31st March there would be no funding for any of their projects, two years before the official end of New Deal.
With just six weeks notice, fourteen local projects were faced with making staff redundant and ending their activities. Half the projects had contracts for funding for the coming year; some expected funding to the end of New Deal in March 2011.
In several public meetings that followed, New Deal told residents that the £52million awarded to Burngreave was all but spent. With just £400,000 left to spend, the New Deal board decided that the remaining funds would be spent on trying to make their buildings, Vestry Hall, Sorby House and Forum House, sustainable.
Community projects pull together
Despite the shock and anger at the news, projects responded with a coordinated and determined campaign. The majority of the projects supported young people, who played a major part in the fight to save projects.
Coordinated by Burngreave Community Action Forum, residents attended the Full Council meeting on 4th March, armed with questions. Sheffield City Council are the ‘accountable body’ for the New Deal grant money. They also manage several New Deal funded projects. Residents put twelve questions to the Council including:
“We work with the hard to reach at 13-19. It’s a serious age, when a lot changes for them. If Streetworx goes, it’s the young people that suffer. What will you put in its place?” Rayon Ramsey, from Streetworx
“Sheffield City Council is the accountable organisation, why did you let New Deal over spend?” Shanti Wilson from Streetworx
“What commitment will the Council give to ensure that valuable community activity in the education field is not lost. Surely it’s wrong to play politics when it impacts on children at school?” Mariam Anthony from Somali Education Breakthrough study support.
Councillor Andrew Sangar, Cabinet member for children’s services, recognised how valuable the work of projects was. Cllr Simon Clement-Jones, Cabinet member for Finance, said, “We will do all we can to make sure this fantastic work continues. It’s not your fault it has happened. Why should you be punished? We are the accountable body, and we are starting an investigation to find out what’s happened here.”
Funding for young people secured
In a follow up meeting, young people asked Councillors Colin Ross and Andrew Sangar to make good on their promises to support their projects. They made a commitment to fund Streetworx for a further year and Study Support, Extended Schools and Family Advocacy projects for a further six months.
Young people organised a further meeting with Sonia Sharp, Head of the Council’s Children and Young People’s Directorate, to make sure the deal could be delivered. Farhan Ahmed reports on page 4.
Other projects carry on
While the Council has stepped in to save vital young people’s services, other projects have been left to fend for themselves. SAGE Greenfingers and the Burngreave Messenger, have been working to secure funding over the last year and will carry on despite the cut in funding. The PCT have brought resources from other areas to save the Health Shop and Burngreave Opportunities will continue but its service will reduce.
Still at risk and major losses
Pitsmoor CAB manages three advice projects; some of this work will come to an end. Burngreave Community Action Forum was solely funded by New Deal and its staff team is at risk. Green City Action’s funding was due to end in May, but their work will finish sooner, with up to 10 job losses.
Apprenticeship for All has ended with 26 apprentices made redundant. And Active Burngreave will end its sports activity in the area, with 6 jobs lost.