Groups speak out over council cuts

Rethink mental health charity will be effected by the budget cuts of Notts County Council.  Pictured from left are Karl Hewitt, Community Mental Health Worker, service users Frank Turnbull, Maurice Drew, Peter Giles, Lynda Bowskill and Rachel Bassett-Darby, services manager at their allotments on Cheapside (w110309-22a)
Rethink mental health charity will be effected by the budget cuts of Notts County Council. Pictured from left are Karl Hewitt, Community Mental Health Worker, service users Frank Turnbull, Maurice Drew, Peter Giles, Lynda Bowskill and Rachel Bassett-Darby, services manager at their allotments on Cheapside (w110309-22a)

COMMUNITY groups who benefit the vulnerable and the elderly have spoken out after receiving their budget from Notts County Council for the coming year.

Organisation Rethink - who provide a range of skills in horticulture for individuals with mental health difficulties - have had their £100,000 funding cut.

Leading health charity Mind have suffered a 20 per cent financial reduction for its services in Bassetlaw.

And Rural Bassetlaw Befriending Scheme, who offer support to over 50s feeling isolated, have lost more than two thirds of its £32,000 funding.

Located at The Venture Centre, on Watson Road, Rethink help mentally ill individuals with confidence building and therapy.

Services manager Rachel Bassett-Darby said they were “devastated” by the cuts.

She added: “They’ve decided to cut our funding but we are what the Big Society is all about.”

“The Big Society is all about community initiative and community involvement and this is a service in the community that liaises with them in the community.”

“We are doing all the right things and ticking all the right boxes.”

“We are devastated.”

Rachel set up the garden project at the Cheapside allotments, behind Priory Church, 14 years ago. She has since built up two further schemes at Clumber Park and Sutton in Ashfield.

Starting out with nothing more than a wheelbarrow and a flask, she is amazed to see how the allotments have developed.

“Through the gardening scheme they get some fresh air, keep fit and get used to going outside,” Rachel said.

“It gets them up in the morning and involved in everyday activities, which makes a big difference.”

“These are their jobs in the community and this is their life.”

Rachel is currently in the process of trying to set up a direct payments scheme. The initiative sees councils give money to people receiving social care services instead of the council providing the service directly.

“We needed 12 months to put that in place and through the plan not everyone will not meet the criteria to get required money.”

“It’s always the elderly and mental health patients that get hit, it is very hard to quantify what impact it will have on someone,” Rachel added.

Bassetlaw Mind, based in Hardy Street, Worksop, has had its grant aid budget reduced from £51,000 to £40,000.

“Obviously we were expecting to have our funding cut, because of what has been happening with statutory services,” said manager Liz Daniels.

Nicola Rea, centre co-ordinator said: “We have still got to fill that £11,000 gap somehow, but now we know what we’re getting we can start moving forward and planning for the future.”

Liz and Nicola insisted that service users would continue to get the same quality of service, and that any changes would be dealt with compassionately.

Liz said: “They clearly recognise there’s a huge need for mental health services and that we are doing a good job,” she said.

Notts County Council also handed £9,000 to Rural Bassetlaw Befriending Scheme, the group support over 50s who might be experiencing loneliness or isolation by setting up activities to get them out the house.

Rural Community Action Notts (RCAN), who manage the projects, said they received the full amount they put in for.

“When it became clear we would not receive the full £32,000, we decided to put in a bid of only £9,000,” said RCAN CEO Rob Crowder.

“Knowing there was going to be less money, we are looking to cut the project in half at the moment.”

RCAN said they were waiting to see if bids to the Boots charity and Goodwin have been successful.

As it stands, however, they face losing one of their two part-time workers who help organise activities such as walks and lunches.

“It’s still early days to say what will be lost,” added Rob.

Notts County Council said they were “feeling the pinch” due to Government grants.

Coun Stuart Wallace, deputy cabinet member for adult social care and health, said the council will be working to provide everyone receiving community social care services with a personal budget.

“The introduction of this modern, personalised way of providing social care will ensure all those who are eligible for a personal budget will be able to use it to benefit from Rethink’s schemes in the future,” he added.

“Introduced under the previous Government, the concept of personal budgets gives people greater freedom, choice and control over their social care needs.”

“This is something we’re committed to developing at the county council and I fully expect those purchasing their own social care services will invest their budgets in those services that best meet their needs.”

To bridge the gap between 31st March and when Rethink will be able to allow it’s clients to use the personal budget scheme, coun Wallace said the council has moved to provide the group with a “transitional fund” to cover the first six months of the new financial year.