Parents reassured over cuts to charity support service in North East Lincolnshire
UP TO 70 families who rely on a charity support service are today being reassured care will continue – despite the contract being cancelled.
Families across North East Lincolnshire with children who have additional needs are dependent on a key worker service, currently provided by the charity Barnardo's.
The service is commissioned by North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC), which has recently announced it will not be renewing its contract with the charity when it comes to an end on March 31.
However, NELC is keen to reassure those using the service, who had feared their lifeline had been cut, that officials are looking to continue this support by integrating the provision into existing council services.
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Service user Melissa Websell, 28, of Waltham, said she is desperate for the service to remain the same and fears changes will be made once the contract with Barnardo's ends.
Her three-year-old daughter Emmelia was born with severe reflux and acid problems, which meant she had to undergo major surgery at Sheffield Children's Hospital.
In November 2011, Emmelia underwent an operation where a wrap was placed around her stomach to stop her from refluxing and a hole in her belly now has a feeding tube attached, so food can go directly to her stomach.
Melissa said her daughter is getting stronger each day, but it is a waiting game as to whether she will ever be able to eat a full meal through her mouth.
"I am constantly looking after Emmelia, but it gets hard, as I have two other children to deal with and I am a single parent.
"That is why I rely so much on my key worker as she does my chores, including the food shopping, picking up medication and generally gives me that helping hand I need.
"I don't know where I would be without her and I am worried I will lose her through these changes."
Councillor Ian Lindley, NELC's portfolio holder for people services, said: "Firstly, let me make it absolutely clear that we are not closing the key worker service.
"Since we first developed a key worker service there have been a number of other developments such as an integrated family support model, the Carers' Centre and Befriender schemes that all form part of the support services currently available.
"I want to reassure families currently supported by the service that we will work with Barnardo's to ensure continuity during the transition period and with the parents' forum to ensure that the right free support continues to be available to meet identified needs."
A spokesman for Barnardo's, said: "Barnardo's is committed to supporting the most vulnerable children, young people and families in our communities.
"We are currently working closely with NELC to support the families and offer them an alternative service where available."