Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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St Martin’s Helpdesk open for fewer hours

April 15 2011
Funding cuts to blame

The Helpdesk at St Martin's in the Bullring in Birmingham is an open-door drop-in that offers a range of support to vulnerable people. It helps individuals who are homeless to find accommodation, sorts out benefits problems, and links people into drug, alcohol and mental health services. St Martin’s pride themselves on being a friendly and flexible service, and offer clients close, individual support.

The charity recently announced that due to loss of funding, particularly from Birmingham City Council, they had been forced to reduce staff numbers. As a result, they will reduce their opening hours by eight hours a week from 14 March 2011.

Helpdesk Co-ordinator Dr Graham Stubbs said: “Like many other organisations, we have been finding the funding situation increasingly difficult. After much soul-searching, we decided that we had no option but to reduce our opening hours. This was a really hard decision to make. We realise that vulnerable people will not always be able to access support that they desperately need. This is made worse by the fact that other services in the city are also being cut at a time when demand for them is likely to rise... The government has decided that it wants to promote the ‘Big Society’ as a way of providing local services for people in need. They have indicated that they would like local charities and volunteer groups to be involved in providing these services. At the same time funding is being withdrawn.”

He added: “Voluntary organisations can do remarkable things with limited resources, but there is a limit. We all have to pay for rent, phones and a basic level of professional management. If the Big Society is to work, the government needs to understand this and make sure the necessary resources are available.”