Cuts to Supporting People challenged

Sean Boyle (left) and Kathleen Bradley (right) were among those who attended the recent meeting in Derry.
Sean Boyle (left) and Kathleen Bradley (right) were among those who attended the recent meeting in Derry.

Unison representatives in Derry have called for a recent cut to housing support services for vulnerable people to be reversed.

They were speaking this week following a recent meeting during which workers expressed their anger over increased workloads, static low pay and uncertainty following the new Supporting People grant reduction.

Unison member and local community worker, Kathleen Bradley, said the effect of community and voluntary sector workers’ morale being low and pay being low was having a knock on effect on service users. “There has been no mitigation for the workers and the staff affected by this cut.

“I’m really concerned of the impact of staff feeling burned out, staff feeling devalued, feeling under pressure, feeling as though they literally cannot carry any more. I’m worried that will have a devastating impact then on the delivery of services and ultimately the people that need those services. We can’t deliver these services with unskilled or unqualified people. The time has come now for everyone in the sector to stand together and say enough has to be enough now because no-one is safe.

“The community and voluntary sector is the polyfilla of society. If we weren’t there that wall would crumble and there would be devastating consequences then. This is actually an attack on people who hold the threads of society together. These are not luxury services, this is need.”

Sean Boyle from Unison agreed. He said: “If you want a good service you pay for it.”

Mr Boyle also called for an investigation into where the Supporting People money was being spent, and said that workers should have been protected.

“A lot of the workers involved are not getting the living wage, they’re getting just above the minimum wage,” Mr Boyle added.

(See Pages 24 & 25 for more)