Cuts-hit charity told: you’ll get no extra cash from the council

Fg0119 - fife gingerbread off the menu

Fife Gingerbread campaigners out in force.

​Vital charity told there's nothing extra in the budget for it

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31st January 2019 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Council leaders have told a cuts-threatened, award winning charity that it will get no extra help as it fights to stay afloat.

The co-leaders of Fife Council told a public meeting that there would be no additional support in the authority’s forthcoming budget to help struggling Fife Gingerbread, which supports 253 families.

Both councillors David Alexander and David Ross indicated that the joint SNP and Labour-led council cannot step in to relieve external funding challenges.

Last week TFN revealed that Fife Gingerbread is facing a crisis which could see jobs and vital services lost.

The charity – which won People’s Choice at the Scottish Charity Awards in 2014 – said that many of its funding streams are set to run dry in the coming months.

Many of its services are only partially funded, or the funds are subject to cuts.

A public meeting was held to address the crisis, and Fife Council’s co-leaders were challenged about the impact the loss of this vital support will have on families.

They were also asked to provide more cash to the charity to help with the funding shortfall, on top of money already provided.

After being told there was no extra money available, the charity’s chief executive Rhona Cunningham said the authority had to understand that that Fife Gingerbread has been relieving pressure on council services for many years by successfully securing millions of pounds of external funding to support families, preventing them requiring statutory intervention.

Cunningham said: “I am frustrated beyond belief at this response after a year of briefings, draft papers, and business cases being produced for senior council officers across the council and elected members to highlight the need for us to be able to keep supporting these 253 families.

“Everyone is sympathetic and agrees we need to continue our level of service, but everyone points to someone else as being responsible; another directorate, another party, Scottish Government, Westminster, it’s always someone else getting the blame but blame doesn’t help families. Areas in Fife already have some of the highest rates of derivation in the country, where is the appetite to solve this?

“Right now we feel like an unvalued and disposable voluntary sector partner.”

Fife Council co-Leader David Ross responded: “Like many other voluntary groups across Fife, Fife Gingerbread provides valuable local services to children and families in our communities. The council continues to provide substantial funding to the organisation and in the past couple of years has provided transitional funding to Gingerbread to tide them over until other external funding was available.

“Their current financial difficulties are in the main down to the ending of time limited Lottery and Scottish Government funding streams. Unfortunately the realities of the council’s financial position mean it isn’t possible for the council to step in and make up for the loss of external funding for Gingerbread or other voluntary organisations in a similar situation.

“I know that officers are working with Fife Gingerbread to see what might be possible in order to protect what we all recognise are valuable services.”

Fife Gingerbread now faces a race against time to find funding before it is forced to dramatically reduce its service, which would impact hundreds of families across Fife.

Last year it helped families to receive a collective financial gain of £260,963 and trained 53 volunteers.

It provided 180 families with a festive package including fuel, food, clothing and gifts.

Kerrie Friel, a lone parent who has received support from Fife Gingerbread in the past and is now a long-time volunteer and activist for the organisation, spoke about how important bthe organisation is.

She said: “You never know when you will need help from someone like Fife Gingerbread; your relationship can breakdown, you can fall ill, you can lose your job, things like that can easily cause someone to spiral out of control.

“I thought I was going to spiral but Fife Gingerbread was there to help me pick up the pieces, I don’t know where I would be now without them.”