Community launches campaign against funding cuts

Pchp protest

Community campaigners in north Edinburgh are coming together with six voluntary organisations to fight dramatic funding cuts to local health projects

18th December 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Community groups have come together to fight the effects of brutal funding cuts.

Six organisations from the north of Edinburgh who learned last week that they will lose their grants from the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) have formed a campaign to help ensure support for the local community remains in place.

The campaign was devised at a public meeting last night (Monday 17 December) with the group set to be led by members of the community with support from the organisations.

TFN reported last week that a total of 35 organisations are set to lose out on their funding after grants totalling £1.9 million a year were not recommended for renewal by the board.

The EIJB, which is made up of health board and council representatives, said the move follows a review into health and social care grants, with the decision cemented at a meeting of the board on Friday 14 December.

Pilton Community Health Project (PHCP) is one of the organisations affected and said that it faces a fight for survival. Protestors gathered at the board meeting show their support for the group, which has been in operation for 34 years.

On the back of the decision, a meeting to discuss the cuts was held at the Muirhouse Millennium Centre this week, which is another group affected by the decision. Representatives from Drylaw Neighbourhood Centre, North Edinburgh Timebank, North West Carers and the Pilton Equalities Project (PEP) were also in attendance to discuss how the cuts will affect them and what can be done to continue vital support in the community.

“What came out of the meeting was the establishment of a campaign group,” said Helen Scammell, co-director of PCHP.

“What was agreed is that the community should lead the group and there will be a delegate from each of the six organisations on it too.

“We need to campaign and highlight the fact that the EIJB have frozen funding for the voluntary sector. If you look at the funds that have been allocated, they are very similar to the level from last year. If there is a commitment to preventative work in the community, they need to sustain funding to support the vital work that goes on in our community.”

The EIJB has highlighted that requests of £31 million were made to the fund, despite only £14 million being available. At a heated board meeting, the deputy council leader Cammy Day hit out at a lack of funding from the Scottish Government for requiring the EIJB to cut the funding for groups. Amid protests from noisy protesters outside City Chambers, groups highlighted the impact on losing the funding – with some groups set to be closed down. It was agreed that an innovation fund of £100,000 will be put aside as a buffer, in case users are adversely affected by the cuts.

IJB chairman councillor Ricky Henderson proposed that finance officers will work with unsuccessful organisations to “ensure that service users are offered appropriate alternative support” and will “assist with identifying alternative funding or restructuring.”

Other organisations named as affected by the board’s decision include Nari Kallyan Shangho (NKS), which supports South Asian women and other minority communities in south Edinburgh; Community Ability Network Craigmillar, a community-run advice shop; and Local Opportunities for Older People (LOOP), which aims to help connect older people with information and opportunities in their community.

Scammell added that the groups involved will continue to campaign individually as they look to survive, alongside working together.

“PCHP will continue to fight its corner,” she said. “I think we have the biggest campaign in the whole of Edinburgh so far, the support has been amazing.

“There is a recognition from the groups involved that we all need to fight our own corners, and highlight our work, but we also need to fight shoulder to shoulder to highlight our campaigns.”