On 17th February Burngreave New Deal for Communities announced that from 31st March there would be no funding for any of their projects.
There are 14 external projects still funded by the programme, all of which are faced with making staff redundant in 6 weeks time, and many projects face the possibility of ending their activities in April. New Deal itself gave vulnerability notices to all of its staff two months ago and will now be making significant staff cuts.
In a meeting of project managers with Ann Allen, New Deal's executive Manager, she said Government Office had confirmed Burngreave would not receive any additional money beyond the £52.3 million it was originally granted for the ten years to March 2011. New Deal have for some time planned to spend £2million extra; with this no longer a possibility New Deal says it has just £400,000 left to spend in the next two years. Ann stated
“We cannot offer funding to your projects beyond 31st March this year”
One project manager responded saying “It beggars belief that we didn't see this coming.” It was obvious that there was genuine shock in the room, and concern for how local people benefiting from projects would be affected.
Ann explained that the £400,000 remaining money would be used to support New Deal's buildings, Sorby House, Vestry Hall and Forum House to become sustainable. Voluntary board member Kelvin Pine said,
“Of course we wanted to prioritize the projects over the buildings, but if we try to sell these assets now, any money from the sale will go straight back to the government and we will have nothing.”
Ann told the meeting that if the buildings can be made successful and sustainable in the remaining two years of New Deal, they will be allowed to sell them and use the money in Burngreave. Remaining New Deal staff will be focusing their work on the buildings. Speaking to the Messenger after the meeting Ann said,
“BNDfC is in a most regrettable financial situation and are genuinely sorry for the impact this will have on local projects and residents. Our decisions around not continuing funding are purely financially based and in no way a reflection of the quality of work carried out by projects. The decision has been an emotional and difficult one for the Board to make and they remain committed to pursuing any/all other funding opportunities that can benefit Burngreave. The Board and staff team are now going to focus on managing the difficult situation as prudently and professionally as possible with a firm eye on the legacy that the programme will leave in Burngreave.”
Unite, one of the unions working on behalf of the New Deal's and other projects' staff, released the following statement
“We are very disappointed that the government has, once again, decided not to redistribute other projects’ ‘underspends’ to successful projects such as BNDfC. Clawing the money back into central government coffers will deprive one of the poorest communities in the country of much needed work, such as supporting school students and unemployed residents. It will leave Burngreave in a worse position as we face the growing recession.
“The union is also disappointed that management does not appear to have planned for such an eventuality, and we are concerned that current plans for the ongoing Burngreave Partnership are not robust, and have not done enough to minimise either redundancies, or the wider impact upon the community.”
The Messenger has been speaking to projects to find out what the future holds.
Supporting Advice, Advocacy Now, Home Visiting
These projects are managed by Pitsmoor Citizen's Advice Bureau. Supporting advice employs advice workers in the CAB, Northern Refugee Centre, Pakistan Advice Centre and the Yemeni Welfare Project. All these posts are a risk. The Home Visiting project takes advice to residents who cannot make it to the centre, because of disability or illness, the CAB will try to maintain this service which has volunteer involvement already, but the cut will hit the most vulnerable people. The Advocacy Now project, which runs from a base on Spital Hill, also has volunteers but is likely to be very badly affected by the cut. Chris Walker of the CAB said,
“We are doing everything we can to save these projects – we will try to retain as much as we can, but our services are going to be massively reduced as a result of this premature decision. We were planning for these services to wind down in an ordered way and we would have had chance to phase in replacement, resources – mainly with newly trained volunteers.”
Supports residents in finding work, including help with Cvs, work experience and guidance on training opportunities. This project has other funding in place which means at least a basic service will continue. Further funding may become available in the near future that could top up the service, more will be known in March.
This includes the Family Advocacy workers supporting parents in schools. And extended schools workers who develop extra school activities for parents, children and families in school.
The Family Advocacy Team are employed and part funded by the Council. We have no information yet about how they will respond to the cut.
The extended schools workers are employed by the schools directly and all under different circumstances. It will be up to individual schools to look at how this work can be continued.
Deliver it Green
Run by Green City Action to improve green spaces in Burngreave. This project was due to end in May anyway. The project is looking at how it can finish remaining work to Ella Road, Abbeyfield Park, and Carwood estate before the end of March.
Apprenticeships for All
This project is run by the Council's Life Long Learning and Skills. While the programme will be affected the scale of the impact is not yet known. If anyone is concerned about what this might mean for them contact the team on 272 2743, or call into Forum House.
Burngreave Community Action Forum
The forum is currently reliant on New Deal funding, but with things changing in the city for Area Panels, who will now become much larger Area Assemblies, the role of Community Forum is seen as crucial to local democracy and voice. It's possible some resource will be found to maintain our Forum.
The Burngreave Health Shop, a new project managed by the Primary Care Trust. The project is heavily reliant on New Deal funding, but the issue has been raised with the Executive Team at the PCT, and options for other funding are under discussion.
A community run project for residents with mental health problems, which provides support through collective work on an allotment at Grimesthorpe. This project has other funders along side their New Deal funding and is at least secure until September.
Run by Sheffield Futures, this employs detached youth workers in the area, it also supports the Young Advisors and the Youth council. The project could end in March, but Sheffield Future's general budget comes from the Council and this has yet to be agreed, so its still unclear what resources could come to the Burngreave team.
Run by the Council's Activity Sheffield to develop sport and physically in the area. We have no information about this project yet.
This project funds Burngreave Study Support for Yemeni Children, Reach High 2 for Pakistani Children, Somali Education Breakthrough and IT CSSS for Somali Children. These projects were due to finish their New Deal funding in July, and discussions had already begun with the Council's Children and Young People's Directorate about receiving support directly from the Council, but it is likely to be at a reduced level.
We have been lucky in gaining support from other funders including the Tudor Trust and Comic Relief. And while the next year will not be easy, we hope with the help of our advertisers that we will continue to produce the Messenger 6 times per year.
Questions and answers at the next Board meeting
The next New Deal Partnership Board meeting, on Wednesday 25th February will be open ‘Questions and Answers’ session to allow projects and residents to raise any issues they may have about this situation.