Council a 'disgrace' if it withdraws charity's £800,000, says dad-of-two
A FATHER-OF-TWO says it would be a "disgrace" if Derby City Council cuts the money it gives to a charity that turned his life around.
Action Housing and Support helps vulnerable people in the city get jobs and find homes.
The city council gave it £800,000 for the current financial year but wants to stop this from April 1 as it tries to save £62.4 million over the next three years.
The charity, which operates across the Midlands and South Yorkshire, says the cut would have a "massive impact" on the number of people it could help in Derby.
It says it would also lead to 23 redundancies of full- and part-time staff.
One of those helped by the charity is Lee Wright, 28, who was referred to Action Housing by the city council after falling on hard times early last year.
His mother had recently died, his 10-year relationship with his girlfriend had broken down and he had been made redundant from his concreting job.
Mr Wright said Action Housing found him a home, gave him someone to talk to and put him in touch with drug and alcohol misuse charity Lauren's Link to help him deal with his drinking.
He is now one of six people on the charity's apprenticeship scheme, learning painting and decorating skills by bringing properties back into use.
Mr Wright, of Wiltshire Road, Chaddesden, said: "They've turned my life around. I have a flat where my kids can come and visit me, I don't drink, and I have references that will help me get a painting and decorating job. Since when has money been more important than someone's life? If this is what we are now assuming in this country, then I'm ashamed to live here."
Helen Greig, the charity's director of client support services, said the loss of the city council cash would not force the organisation to close as it operates over a wide area but it would mean cutting the equivalent of 18 full-time jobs.
Other services Action Housing provides include helping vulnerable people stay in their homes by advising them how to manage their benefits, and helping convicted criminals avoid re-offending
Councillor Fareed Hussain, cabinet member for adults and health, said the council was focusing on funding services it had to provide by law but he added: "The council is considering whether a small number of high-priority services may be offered a time-limited extension on their contracts beyond the end of March 2013.
"The council is working with affected organisations to devise contingency plans for potential loss of funding."