Some of the most vulnerable people in the county are set to lose out as Staffordshire County Council plans savage cuts to services provided by Staffordshire Housing Group charity, Arch. This is despite strong evidence that the services actually save the council money in other areas.
UP! – a pioneering mental wellbeing project – faces closure in three months under proposals unveiled by Staffordshire County Council to withdraw all its funding.
It has also been recommended that North Staffs Floating Support service, only launched 3 months ago, is cut by 50 per cent.
Meanwhile, Arch’s domestic violence services in Newcastle and Cheadle are recommended to receive 20 per cent less financial support.
Up! Mental Wellbeing Service is just one year into a three year county council contract providing support to North Staffordshire residents suffering from mental health issues such as severe depression, anxiety and poor mental wellbeing.
Based at Pointon House, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Up! provides support for 24 people, along with accommodation for its most vulnerable customers, and employs nine staff. It was planning a first birthday celebration for service users when the closure plans were unveiled.
“There are no available alternative services for UP! customers and the removal of the contracts will have significant impact on the most vulnerable people we support as well as public sector providers delivering health, social care, criminal justice and safeguarding services,” Barry Pitts, Group Director, warned.
The support offered by Arch to people with complex and diverse mental health needs reduces homelessness, crime and re-offending. It saves the NHS and county council social services a substantial amount of money by reducing the demand on acute, high-cost health and social care services.
Arch has provided evidence to the county council to show how the services contracted to them will save several million pounds to the general public purse over the next 12 months compared with the £460,000 they will save through their proposed cuts and closures.
“We were advised there would be cuts and asked to prepare a case for the protection of Arch services,” said Mr Pitts.
“However, I was very shocked to hear the cuts are now going ahead before the consultation process is complete and that the severity has been increased. We have been told that a decision is to be made under delegated powers by Cllr Alan White, Cabinet member for Care.”
The Up! service had originally been asked to prepare for a 50 per cent cut – closure had never been mentioned in previous discussions between Mr Pitts and the county council.
“We are deeply saddened and very disappointed by both the ferocity of the cuts and the lack of due process. To close services where the council has accepted there is a need for them is unfair and will cause major issues for vulnerable residents in Staffordshire.”
Mr Pitts has now written letters to all Staffordshire county councillors to ask them to campaign for the cuts to be reversed and protesting about the failure to complete a full service review.
“I was living in a hostel. I wasn’t getting much support and I was falling back into drinking and getting into trouble by the police,” said Karen, aged 37.
“I was at rock bottom when I came to Up!; I was in a lost world with my mental health.”
“Up! staff just spent time with me and let me talk when I was ready. With their help and support I managed to come through my alcohol problems and I didn’t need to go to detox.”
As she regained her confidence, Karen began to mix with people at Pointon House. She felt confident enough to pursue interests such as cake decorating and art and then felt able to attend a two-week creative writing course at the New Vic Theatre.
A year on and Karen is taking a course in independent living which will allow her to move out of Pointon House.
Karen is off probation for the first time in over 10 years and is now in contact with her adult daughter, who was adopted, and her granddaughter.
Notes to Editors:
Cllr White’s decision is to be made on 27 June. Up! will then be on a three month notice period of closure.
Arch, which is part of the Staffordshire Housing Group, works with some of the most vulnerable people in society, providing support services for people experiencing domestic violence, poor mental wellbeing, substance misuse or homelessness.
Based in Stoke on Trent with homes and services throughout Staffordshire and East Cheshire, the Staffordshire Housing Group comprises Staffordshire Housing Association, Arch, Blue Mountain and Revival Home Improvement Agency. The group is dedicated to creating opportunities and changing lives by providing high quality homes and services to a diverse range of people.
Parent company Staffordshire Housing Association owns and manages around 3,000 homes for rent and sale, and also delivers regeneration and housing development.
Revival, the group’s home improvement agency, works with older and vulnerable people to maintain their properties, help them return home from hospital, adapt their homes to suit their health needs and maintain their independence.
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