Only a matter of time until a homeless death, warns charity boss after funding cuts

Alan Diggles, CEO of Hope Community Services
Alan Diggles, CEO of Hope Community Services

It’s only a matter of time before a homeless person is found dead on the streets of Worksop, the CEO of Hope has warned after the charity suffered a “heartbreaking” funding slash of £20,000.

A further increase in homelessness in the town along with a surge in crime will also result due to Bassetlaw District Council’s decision to withdraw the funds, claims Alan Diggles.

Mr Diggles, who heads the Queen Street based homelessness charity, is now calling on the council to “stop putting plants on roundabouts” and focus their spending on getting people off the streets in Worksop.

Alan, who says he has had to make three of his staff members redundant due to the cuts, told the Guardian: “It’s heartbreaking when people are showing up at our door begging for help, and we have no choice but to turn them away as we now lack the resources to help them.

“We work with some very chaotic and challenged individuals and these cuts prevent us from working with them individually, keeping them off the streets permanently and stopping them from re-offending if they have been involved with crime.

“The £20,000 we have been receiving yearly enabled the council to discharge their legal duty to homeless people. But at the end of 2015 the funding was removed without alternative provision, placing the council in breach of its statutory duty.”

But David Armiger, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods at Bassetlaw District Council, said a regular programme of funding had “never been provided to or agreed” with Hope.

The charity has received in excess of £100,000 in council grants in the past 10 years however, added Mr Armiger, money which has been used in many of the charity’s capital projects such as the purchase of its emergency hostel in 2006.

Mr Armiger added: “Bassetlaw Community and Voluntary Service, who have administered the counci’s grant scheme on our behalf since 2014, received a request from Hope for additional funding at the beginning of the financial year for further capital projects.

“But this request was not approved as Hope’s financial accounts indicated a healthy financial reserve.

“The council is fully supportive of the work Hope carry out, and will assess any future funding application on their own merits.”

Mr Diggles said: “Cutting funding for homeless provision is counter-productive. It will lead to greater costs on the public purse and serious problems in the Bassetlaw Community,”