The charity sector in Huddersfield faces its biggest challenge yet as council children’s services shrink to levels not seen for decades.
But the Yorkshire Children’s Centre, a Huddersfield-based charity, says it will cope despite unprecedented demand on its services.
The charity, with its headquarters at Brian Jackson House, provides everything from contact centres for children and parents to a college for teenagers who have been excluded from mainstream schools.
The measure, which will save the council £10m, will see more centralisation of children’s and young people’s services.
And the charity sector will have to pick up the slack as families, previously reliant on council services, become shut out from the public sector.
Yorkshire Children’s Centre, which was founded by educationalist Brian Jackson in 1974, has an army of 240 volunteers.
That’s why it will be able to pick up some of the extra ‘business’ that will be coming its way.
Director Simon Cale said: “It’s got to happen and it’s unfortunate they have to make significant cuts.
“The council cuts are very severe. We have never experienced levels like this before.”
But Simon added: “We feel we are able to cope with that through the people supporting us and the biggest support comes from volunteers.”
Operating as a charity with dedicated volunteers and relying less on grants and donations, enables the Yorkshire Children’s Centre to weather the storm.
Simon said: “We have done it for years without any money and we will continue to do it.”
But starting new services and taking on new contracts in these austere times will be more difficult than ever for the centre.
Simon said: “If local authority funding and opportunities are cut, our funding and opportunities are cut.
“Charities employing paid workers will find it very difficult in the coming years.
“It’s even harder than ever to get contacts and funding for them.
“Charities that will survive will have a good social enterprise and business base.”
But tougher financial circumstances may force charities to devise innovative and more efficient ways of surviving.
Simon said: “What’s emerging is a refreshing look at how paid and volunteer staff can work together.
“It’s amazing how many people have brilliant skills out there.”
A public consultation on the Kirklees children’s services plan closes on November 22 and the results will be presented to Cabinet on January 17