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Safeguarding support group blames Herts County Council cuts for closure fears

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Pro-Action supports groups across Herts (7932840)
Pro-Action supports groups across Herts (7932840)

A support organisation for youth and children's groups in the Bishop’s Stortford area says it is about to become “another victim of the drastic funding cuts inflicted by Hertfordshire County Council on the voluntary sector”.

Pro-Action, a registered charity, fears the loss of £100,000 funding will force it to close its doors in June.

It works with more than 300 youth and children’s clubs and projects across Hertfordshire. They include Thirst Youth Café in South Street, Bishop's Stortford Volunteer Police Cadets, Bishop's Stortford Hockey Club, YC Herts, Carers in Herts – Young Carers, RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) Herts & Essex Borders and the East Herts Hunt branch of the Pony Club.

A spokeswoman for the voluntary organisation said: “We need approximately £338,000 to run each year. In previous years we've been awarded £150,000 from the council. £100,000 has been cut from the budget by HCC this year.

“In the past, after the £150,000 grant from HCC, we usually earn £80,000 income and fundraise for the remaining £100,000.

“As funding has faded within the sector, Pro-Action has been a font of knowledge and remained the go-to for all those working with children and young people in Herts, particularly the volunteer workforce. The small team at Pro-Action have over 150 years of experience in the youth sector between them."

The group provides a training programme, with discounted rates for volunteers, in essential areas such as safeguarding. It is also an umbrella body for enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks to ensure those working in the sector can safely recruit.

The spokeswoman said: “Although this is not glamorous, without Pro-Action, provision for children and young people will struggle to continue.”

Cllr Teresa Heritage, Herts County Council's cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: "Along with the rest of local authorities in the UK, Hertfordshire County Council’s budgets continue to come under pressure and we need to review our services regularly to ensure we’re continuing to provide good value for money with limited resources for our residents, as well as delivering the very best offering for our children, young people and families.

“Unfortunately, as part of this process, we are unable to fund some of Pro-Action’s services at the same level we had been previously. We are working with ProAction to try to find a solution for the loss of the reduced funding.

“Our 2018-19 ‘Supporting Young People in Hertfordshire’ report outlines our approach, which is to work alongside and support the development of local voluntary organisations who are leading on and providing some of our youth support groups and services in the county.”

A £100,000 online fundraising appeal for Pro-Action has been set up.

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