Young people helped by a homelessness charity facing major funding cuts have displayed artwork in a bid to raise awareness of their plight.
The young artists were campaigning against the 85 per cent cuts Derbyshire County Council is proposing to make to SAFE – a partnership between Stonham, Adullam and Framework housing associations, which provides housing support for young people aged 16 to 25.
The partnership currently helps around 300 young homeless people across the county a year, however if the cuts are made this figure is likely to reduce to around 50 people.
Members of the public were invited to Matlock Town Hall recently, on World Homeless Day, to see artwork created by those helped by SAFE.
Neil Skinner, of SAFE, said: “What young people want to do is raise awareness about the situation. One of the ways to do this is through artwork.”
The free exhibition included a surfing sofa, an invisible man and a specially written rap. Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles attended the event and spoke with the campaigners.
He said: “When we’re told by Government ministers that funding cuts are not hitting vulnerable people I would like to suggest that they come and see the reality. The excellent work done by SAFE is yet another victim of the progressive funding cuts to the county council’s budget and sadly this time it will be young homeless people who are the casualties. The youngsters that I met on Friday raised some very valid points, highlighting the success of the SAFE programme in supporting them.”
Neil explained that Derbyshire County Council does not have a statutory obligation to fund the service, which is why the proposed cuts are so high.
He continued: “It comes to a point where it’s not viable to keep a service at all.”
Sue Wood, SAFE Consortia lead, added: “When we first heard of the cuts Derbyshire County Council were proposing for us we were horrified, because we knew how devastating this decision would be for the kinds of young people who rely on us for support.
“I have been absolutely delighted by the response of our service users, who have developed over these last few months a level of interest and engagement in politics that simply did not exist before. “This art exhibition, which was the idea of service users, is a fantastic example of their determination to make their voices heard and I am really proud of everyone who has got involved. I would like to urge anyone who is interested to come along and see it for themselves.”
Derbyshire County Council cabinet member for adult social care, Councillor Clare Neill, said: “I have been working with SAFE over the past few months and have met with young people representing the organisation to discuss the financial situation facing the council and trying to find ways of continuing to provide some sort of service. I have some very difficult decisions to make and I am fully aware of the consequences of those decisions. Cutting SAFE’s budget is not something I want to do and by working with them we have already managed to find a way of providing a service until March 2016. After that we will be reviewing the service and holding a consultation about its future.”
l Full details and resources to help supporters of the campaign are available at www.frameworkha.org/theirfuture.